NTEU:CBP furloughs could put nation at risk, create hardships for employees

Thursday - 2/21/2013, 6:52am EST

By Katie Howard
Federal News Radio

The National Treasury Employees Union was informed by Customs and Border Protection that agency-wide furlough notices of up to 14 days will be issued in mid-March as a result of sequestration. CBP told NTEU that it will have to make $754 million in cuts from March 1 through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

"These cuts will have devastating impacts on CBP's duel missions of securing our borders and facilitating trade and travel," said NTEU President Colleen Kelley.

Additionally, the cuts include reductions in travel, training and overtime; an agency-wide hiring freeze; a hiring freeze on frontline vacancies; adjustments to the composition of work units that threaten to sharply increase wait times at border entry points; a substantial loss of revenue from reduced travel and slowed commercial traffic; and more, according to NTEU.

Kelly repeated her call to head off sequestration.

"Sequestration is an unsound and irresponsible fiscal policy," said Kelley. "Congress must act to stop the sequester and head off these damaging reductions."

"With the grave consequences so clear to so many people, organizations and vital government programs, it is hard to believe Congress will choose to pursue this wrong-headed course," she said.

Kelley emphasized that reducing the law enforcement personnel at the border will weaken our ability to safeguard our country against terrorists and criminals, keep illegal guns, drugs, currency and contraband from our communities, ensure the safety of our nation's agriculture, inspect cargo, process travelers in an efficient and effective manner, and facilitate legitimate trade.

CBP said the administrative furloughs are a "last-resort" tool, and told NTEU it will make every effort to spread the furlough days out among the remaining pay periods of this fiscal year.