EPA cuts furlough hours

Wednesday - 5/29/2013, 4:19pm EDT

The Environmental Protection Agency has cut the number of furlough days its employees are facing due to sequestration. Employees are now looking at 23 furlough hours in phase 2 of the agency's plan instead of 47 hours.

Phase 2 begins June 16 and runs through September 30 with mandatory furlough days scheduled for July 5 and August 30.

"I certainly understand that, even at the reduced level, these furloughs will continue to impact you and your families, and I assure you that our employees' well being has remained top of mind for the entire leadership team — and certainly for me," EPA's Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in an email to employees. "For our agency to continue to protect the health and environment of the American people, there are certain items we simply cannot cut any further, from mission-critical travel and necessary new hires, even at reduced replacement rates, to workforce training and new internal management tools. Non-payroll cuts account for almost 80 percent of our total sequestration cuts, but we have come to the difficult conclusion that we cannot raise that percentage any higher."

In Phase 1 of the furlough, currently in effect, EPA employees are taking a total of 32 unpaid hours off, including an agency-wide furlough day on May 24. Phase 1 is set to end June 15.

In total, feds at the agency will take 55 furlough hours instead of the 79 hours originally called for by the department.

"From the day sequestration went into effect, the No. 1 priority of EPA's senior leadership has been to minimize the burden on EPA employees, while still enabling the agency to meet our obligations and fulfill our mission," Perciasepe said. "We have worked hard to that end, but I am keenly aware of the impact administrative furloughs can have — not only on you, but also on your families. I also know the ripple effect this can have on morale throughout offices and on our ability to tackle the important work we do across the agency, day in and day out."

Perciasepe invited all EPA employees to attend a town hall meeting with him tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET where he will answer questions about the furloughs. The event will be held at EPA's headquarters office and will also be broadcast via IPTV.

The document "Operational Guidance for the Managers and Employees," which contains detailed information about EPA's furlough plans, is available to employees via the agency's intranet site. The site includes additional furlough and sequestration information, including how to request and record furlough leave.

For an agency-by-agency furlough guide, check out Federal News Radio's Sequestration Tracker.

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