EPA cancels Aug. 30 furlough day

Wednesday - 8/21/2013, 7:08pm EDT

By Nicole Ogrysko
Federal News Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled its final, mandatory furlough day scheduled for Aug. 30.

"We have been able to save enough money to reduce each employee's furlough time by eight hours — in essence, eliminating the mandatory furlough day scheduled for Friday, Aug. 30, said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a message to agency employees.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy makes the announcement in a video message.

Over two phases of furloughs, EPA employees were forced to take a total of 47 hours off. During phase one, EPA employees took 32 furlough hours. Phase two originally scheduled EPA employees to take 47 furlough hours off, but the agency reduced that number to 23. With this final elimination, EPA employees have been furloughed for about 15 hours during phase two.

This comes as several other agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development have cut the number of unpaid days off their employees have to take.

In response to the EPA's announcement, Karen Kellen, president of the American Federal of Government Employees Council 238, said the agency's unions and management were able to help bring about the change.

"While this announcement is great news for EPA employees, it does not eliminate the harmful short and long term impacts from sequestration on EPA employees and the American public," Kellen said in a statement. "Employees are still struggling to have the resources to do their job of protecting human health and the environment efficiently."

McCarthy said the agency has made "tough funding choices" that has allowed the EPA to cut furlough hours.

"The choices we make are difficult, but we continue to be flexible — applying good management decisions to ensure we continue to carry out our mission and reduce the impact of sequestration on each employee," she said.