Sequestration creeps outside the Beltway

Monday - 7/29/2013, 2:00am EDT

Many of the sequestration-imposed dollar cuts have been aimed at federal workers so far. But that is changing...

About half of the non-postal workforce has suffered 10 and 20 percent pay cuts and had bonuses denied. But now, there are signs that government contractors and businesses that depend on the federal salary dollar are starting to feel the squeeze, too. We examine how contractors are faring in Federal News Radio's special series, Private Side of Sequestration.

Many feds are being affected in places you wouldn't readily suspect.

First, this fun quiz: When it comes to the impact of across-the- board federal program cuts, reduced taxpayer services and furlough-triggered pay cuts for feds, which city has been hardest hit? Would you guess:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Huntsville, Ala.

  3. Cincinnati, Ohio
  4. San Antonio, Texas
  5. Kansas City, Kan.
  6. Ogden, Utah
  7. Orlando, Fla.

Huh?

Orlando! Say what!

The correct answer to the above is all-of-the-above. But some more so than others.

Metro Washington is home to the largest chunk of federal workers in the country. Depending on who is doing the counting, about one in every 14 feds is based here.

The New York City metro area is second, but only just ahead of Arlington, Va., which is a county inside the Beltway.

Because of our high concentration of federal workers — who have yet to suffer layoffs — and a mostly thriving, high-tech, medical community and professional community, the recession here isn't like the recession in Atlanta. Or Dayton.

As the principle source of income, Uncle Sam's salary dollar here is probably less important than it is in Huntsville, Ala., or Ogden, Utah. Huntsville is home to a concentration of federal agencies. In Ogden, you probably either work for the Air Force, the IRS or the Forest Service. Or you don't work.

When it comes to the federal dollar, few places seem less likely to be dependent than Orlando. That's a fun place. A kid-oriented fun place. Las Vegas with more clothes and a higher humidity. And yet...

Orlando hosts lots of conventions and conferences. It is handy for east of the Mississippi, has good package deals — especially in the summer — and is a place you can take the kids. So lots of groups — many of them government or contractor-related — meet there. But this year, not so much.

Attendance in Orlando (and probably other popular visitor spots) from government groups is down big time. Part of it is political fallout from the bad public relations the GSA suffered for some of its out-of-town, over-the-moon events. As a result, many groups that would normally meet in D.C. or around the country have canceled sessions or reduced attendance.

Last week, Federally Employed Women met in Orlando. But attendance was way down, maybe half of what it normally is.

Today, the highly-regarded FDR (Federal Dispute Resolution) conference begins its annual convention, also in Orlando. Despite its odd- sounding name, FDR is considered the place for training and networking and for people in the human resources, people-side of government business. While people are still registering, it appeared as of late last week that attendance may be 50 percent of normal. Multiply that by related events around the country, and you can see the tourist-entertainment-hospitality industry is starting to feel the pinch, too.

Although about 14 percent of the federal workforce lives and works in the metro Washington area, the region is so relatively well-off, (can you say Detroit?) even furloughs and program cuts can be absorbed. Up to a point.

On a per capita basis, almost any of the above — all smaller towns with a larger, federal-military presence — are taking hits that Washington, D.C., is better able to absorb. But Orlando?


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Nicole Ogrysko

Here's another fun fact about Florida: If you just so happen to leave your elephant tied to a parking meter, Florida law requires that you pay a parking fee just as you would pay a fine for your car.

Source: Weird State Laws


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Motivating feds begins with understanding their feelings, experts say
As agencies are realizing the pains of sequester may not be going away any time soon, some professionals are suggesting a different approach to managing the stress of budget constraints: talking it out.

DoE restructures management offices to cut waste, improve security
The Department of Energy is reshuffling its management deck in order to cut costs and improve security. The restructuring, approved July 12 by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, reallocates responsibilities of the three undersecretary offices. DoE will expand the role of undersecretary of science to include the energy technology portfolio, establishing the Office of the Undersecretary for Science and Energy.

MORE FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORT, PRIVATE SIDE OF SEQUESTRATION:

Part 1: Contractors confronted with new type of waiting game due to sequestration

Part 2: Federal 4th quarter spending spree offers contractors hope for return to normalcy

Part 3: Sequestration plays second fiddle in aerospace industry to previous cuts

Part 4: Contractor hiring, morale take sequestration hit

Part 5: Prime contractors show strong earnings despite sequestration

Part 6: Planning for the worst: Companies aim for sequestration-easing strategies

Part 7: Small firms feel first bite of DoD budget cuts as large contractors' stock soars

Survey: Contractors speak out about sequestration's impact

Data Analytics: Sequestration's impact on contractors by- the-numbers

Audio Interview: Government market ground zero