Sequestration, the odd term for automatic budget cuts, seems almost certain to take effect on March 1 unless there is a last minute "Come to Jesus" moment. Thank goodness the furloughs don't start instantly. From Government Executive:
Federal employees will not feel the immediate impact of sequestration, should automatic budget cuts set to go into effect March 1 take place, an Obama administration official said Thursday.
Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel told the Senate Appropriations Committee that union negotiations would start on March 1, if sequestration hasn’t been averted, and most federal employees would not receive furlough notices until mid-March.
“Will the furloughs take place on March 1st?” Werfel asked himself rhetorically. “No, because of legal requirements,” referring to the need to bargain with unions and provide 30 days notice to employees.
OMB clarified on Friday that Werfel was referring specifically to Defense Department civilians when setting April as the earliest possible start date for sequestration furloughs. The Obama administration is leaving open the possibility furlough notices could be sent out to non-Defense feds before March 1.Below is a letter that then Commissioner Michael Astrue sent to Senator Mikulski concerning the sequester. You can click twice on each page to view at full size. It appears to me that Astrue was understating the effects of sequestration on Social Security. I don't see how the agency avoids widespread furloughs. We won't have to wait long to find out. If furloughs are coming, Social Security will have to notify the employee unions and begin negotiating with them pretty much immediately after sequestration begins on March 1.
Update: Let me respond to a persistent misunderstanding. Social Security benefits are exempt from sequestration. Social Security's administrative budget, the budget that pays employee salaries and that pays for rent and electricity and paper clips and all the other goods and services needed to keep the Social Security Administration operating, is very much subject to sequestration