Analysis: Feds can expect more furloughs, buyouts in 2012

Wednesday - 11/23/2011, 2:47pm EST

Steve Losey, reporter, Federal Times

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By Jolie Lee
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

This week's failure of the deficit reduction supercommittee to reach a deal was "Washington's biggest flop since the 1961 Redskins," said Steve Losey, a reporter with Federal Times.

"But at least the '61 Redskins won one game," he added.

The good news for feds is that the supercommittee received many recommendations that would hurt feds' pocketbooks, such as extending the pay freeze and moving from a high-three to high-five retirement annuity calculation. With the supercommittee stalemated, none of those recommendations were presented to Congress.

But the supercommittee's failure triggered automatic, across-the-board cuts to begin January 2013. President Obama has said he would veto any efforts to undo the cuts, also known as sequestration.

The bad news, Losey said, is some of these proposals could be adopted by Congress this coming year as it picks up where the supercommittee left off in trying to cut $1.2 trillion in the federal deficit over a decade.

Congress' tackling the deficit could include an extended federal pay freeze, layoffs and furloughs for federal employees, Losey said in an interview with Your Turn with Mike Causey.

"I would wager dollars to doughnuts that we start to see agencies working toward more buyouts and early outs in 2012 as they start gearing up for the steep cuts that must begin January 2013," Losey said.

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) submitted a letter to the supercommittee in October warning that 40,000 federal jobs would be cut if sequestration goes into effect. Dicks estimated the cuts would results in 5,350 fewer border patrol agents, 9,000 fewer TSA screeners amd 3,700 fewer FBI, DEA and ATF agents and U.S. Marshals.

At the present time, federal employees have been "exempted from layoffs until now. But it could change," Losey said.

In the second half of Your Turn with Mike Causey, Mike talked to Walt Francis, editor of the Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.