WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Analysis: Agencies, Contractors Ramp Up Planning For Sequester

Play associated audio

Federal employees and contractors in our area are beginning to see the effects of spending cuts set to go into effect in March if Congress and the White House do not intervene. Federal agencies have been developing plans to handle the cuts for months, but now they appear to be moving forward even before the reductions go into effect. Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief of Government Executive, talks with WAMU's Elliott Francis about the latest. Here are some highlights:

On specific actions agencies are taking: "We're seeing a whole range of things, everything from slowing down spending on contracts to slowing down projects to planning for things like furloughs if the sequestration goes into effect," Shoop says.

Why agencies and contractors are no longer talking about these cuts hypothetically: "As things have gotten closer, they've realized that the time has come to begin some specific planning," Shoop says. "In the Department of Defense, for example, they've implemented a hiring freeze virtually across the whole department, and they've told civilian employees to begin planning for furloughs that could last up to 22 days starting sometime in April."

Whether agencies waited too long to plan for the sequester: "Not really. There has been planning in place for some time now," Shoop says. "It's really an effort at this point to be pragmatic about saying, 'this is what we want to be prepared for,' and to do some things in advance … so they can bank some savings if it goes into effect."

Why everyone's talking about personnel cuts now, when that action is supposed to be a last resort: "Part of reason we're seeing the talk about this now, is that it's … an effort to get the attention of people on Capitol Hill to say, 'these are going to have real effects,' to increase the pressure … on Congress to take action to avoid this kind of thing," Shoop says.

Whether that effort will succeed: "I think they'll get their attention, but a lot of the talk in the past week was from both Democrats and Republicans saying they are willing to accept a sequester going into effect," Shoop says. "That increases the odds that, even with pressure, something like this will happen."

On the impacts of a potential sequester on government contractors: "It's clearly having an effect on some of the major contractors. General Dynamics posted a $2.1 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2012 and Boeing has announced layoffs," Shoop says. "For the smaller contractors, they're seeing a lot of slowdowns and lack of decisions about future projects."

NPR

He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum

When Noah Davis founded the museum, he wanted to bring world-class art to a neighborhood he likened to a food desert, meaning no grocery stores or museums. Davis died a year ago Monday.
NPR

The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
WAMU 88.5

State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education. Taxes, spending and the quality of public education.

NPR

Surfers And Scientists Team Up To Create The 'Perfect Wave'

Surfers once deemed man-made waves weak and mushy compared to the best that break along the coast. Then engineers and an 11-time world champion surfer showed just how good an artificial wave can be.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.