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Augusta-area civilian employees, defense contractors await sequestration

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In the final days before widespread federal spending cuts are set to begin, civilian employees and defense contractors supporting Augusta’s military installation wait anxiously about the future of thousands of jobs and the metro area’s economy.

It is still unclear how sweeping federal spending cuts might affect civilians and defense contractors at Fort Gordon. The first round of the cuts will take place Friday without Congressional action to prevent them.   SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
It is still unclear how sweeping federal spending cuts might affect civilians and defense contractors at Fort Gordon. The first round of the cuts will take place Friday without Congressional action to prevent them.

Predicting how Fort Gordon, the area’s largest employer, will absorb drastic spending reductions known as the sequester amounts to a guessing game, said Thom Tuckey, the executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. The first round of the cuts will take place Friday without Congressional action to prevent them.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “We’re just not sure what the final impact and final requirements will be.”

Sequestration is the result of an agreement between Congress and President Obama to end an August 2011 budget impasse. Both parties agreed to the Budget Control Act, which allowed for an additional $2.4 trillion in borrowing in exchange for a similar amount of deficit reduction over the next decade. Of that amount, $900 billion was to be achieved through spending caps affecting all government functions outside of entitlement programs. Because a “supercommittee” failed to reach an agreement on determining the balance of the cuts, that triggered automatic $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade coming equally from domestic and defense spending.

Not knowing what share of budget cuts Fort Gordon will be forced to bear complicates budget planning at the installation, Public Affairs Officer J.C. Matthews said.

“At this point, our planning is based on a 30 percent reduction in the funds that are used to operate the installation,” Matthews said. “That has a major effect on all aspects of Fort Gordon from routine purchasing to large contracts.”

Spending has already been reduced in some operational areas, Matthews said. Travel expenditures are curtailed, purchase orders and contracts are examined more rigorously, and only emergency facility maintenance work orders are serviced.

In fiscal year 2012, the economic impact of Fort Gordon was $2.04 billion, Matthews said. Civilian pay totaled $262.9 million and military pay $1.1 billion.

Government expenditures on local purchasing and some contract orders was $555.3 million, and construction funded in fiscal year 2012 was $86.2 million, Matthews said.

On Wednesday, the Department of Defense notified 800,000 civilian employees that they are likely to be placed on periods of unpaid leave. The Pentagon’s tentative plan is 22 furlough days per employee.

Including contractors, 9,000 civilians are employed on Fort Gordon, Matthews said.

Many local businesses that make a lot of money off civilian workers and military personnel could be hurt by these furlough days, Tuckey said.

“Obviously, there’s going to be a reduction in spending. Movie theaters to grocery stores to anything else,” he said. “You will see many of the businesses in the community suffer from that.”

General Dynamics, one of the largest defense contractors with operations at Fort Gordon, said it would not speculate on how sequestration could affect its employees. The company has not reduced its Augusta workforce since October, spokesman Rob Doolittle said.

“We’re considering the potentialities that could come into affect,” Doolittle said.

Local offices of defense contractors might not take a hard hit by budget cuts, Tuckey said. Companies staff mostly liaison offices in Augusta, not large scale operations for building and testing equipment, he said.

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class1
299
Points
class1 02/23/13 - 03:21 pm
7
0
Furlough

Welcome to the world of furloughs days! Teachers know all about them.

Riverman1
90082
Points
Riverman1 02/23/13 - 04:19 pm
5
2
It's being said government

It's being said government workers will be furloughed 22 days over 8-9 months.

MTBer
629
Points
MTBer 02/23/13 - 04:23 pm
5
1
Golf

I think we should all just sign up for a weekend of golf with Tiger, or a week off with out families. No need to worry about keeping the country going. No need to do your job.

Little Lamb
47848
Points
Little Lamb 02/23/13 - 04:29 pm
4
1
Furlough

It's a shame that they're choosing to furlough government employees. Instead they should RIF some of them and permanently reduce the pay of the others. Furloughs are the coward's way out.

trimmy
29
Points
trimmy 02/23/13 - 04:46 pm
0
0
furloughs
Unpublished

The people running this country are stealing so much money. Maybe we need a real financial catastrophe just to put an end to their flagrant dishonesty and rip-offs. How much can the "ordinary citizen" take?

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 02/23/13 - 06:06 pm
0
0
If the average Joe isn't
Unpublished

If the average Joe isn't doing his job, he gets fired or doesn't get paid. Why is it Congress hasn't done their job in 4 years yet there they are everyday with their checks-laughing all the way to the bank.

Riverman1
90082
Points
Riverman1 02/23/13 - 07:02 pm
8
0
Not Allowed to Work Without Pay

I do lots of contract work with the feds and could be affected, but I'm all for it. If we have to bite the bullet to get the Democrats and spending under control, let's do it. This could be a fun time.

Here's an interesting thing, we were told we couldn't work for free. Many have volunteered to do just that to keep things moving, but the feds are not allowing that contribution. It's like they WANT massive disruptions.

nycweeks
41
Points
nycweeks 02/24/13 - 03:16 am
4
0
Jobs

Why does anyone think they are owed a "job"? As if a job is a pre-existing, real, and measurable part of the universe. This thing we call "life" is not predictable and guaranteed. We are all on our on when it comes right own to it. Society is barely here and is very fragile. When individuals start thinking that the food supply chain, safe shelter availability, healthcare access, and the long-term ability to earn a living is owed to them, they should talk to someone who lived through the depression. Stable society is an illusion. There is no magical, protecting entity, as people have come to think of the government as being. Humans, especially Americans, have a short and selective memory that convinces us that we have "jobs" that will assure that we can take care of ourselves and our family. No one owes anyone else anything.

avidreader
3442
Points
avidreader 02/24/13 - 08:07 am
4
0
Foresight!

Concerning the upcoming Black Friday, it surprises me that so many people are surprised! Any intelligent citizen of this country must have known that the current status quo is not a reality in running the business of a nation. WE ARE BROKE and no amount of political rhetoric is going to change this. Our nation's leader cannot continue to spend money that he does not have. Choices are now being made so our nation does not end up like Greece and other European countries.

The biggest problem I see in this catastrophe is that entitlement reduction is not even an issue, although the US Dept. of Education -- a big joke -- will have to trim Title I and other perks. Or, maybe not!

We're in a big mess, folks, and things have to change, drastically! Teachers in RC have been living with this reality for four years.

soapy_725
43947
Points
soapy_725 02/24/13 - 11:03 am
0
0
The local board of housing contractors
Unpublished

bankers and realtors do not believe this story. They even have a single family home designated for 2nd Lieutenant. Housing units are rising out of the swamp as we speak all over CC. Spec houses? Does that ring a bell? CC loves "spec buildings" paid for by the taxpayers.

Darby
28252
Points
Darby 02/24/13 - 11:09 am
3
0
Love the idea of the...

sequester. BRING IT ON!!

Then we get to see all the Chicken Littles out there for what they really are.

We'll soon discover that a reduction in a spending increase is still an increase!

Darby
28252
Points
Darby 02/24/13 - 11:13 am
3
0
The only real reduction in spending.....

during the coming year is going to be where it always is. With the average American family.

When families don't have money to spend, they cut back on luxuries and even some essentials. When government doesn't have money to spend, it spends it anyway.

mbrannen
2
Points
mbrannen 02/24/13 - 09:14 pm
0
1
None

None

allhans
24440
Points
allhans 02/24/13 - 01:33 pm
1
0
I think Congress is doing all

I think Congress is doing all they can to restore some kind of fiscal order to government, but we have the powerful Democrats, Obama and the Senate, going against the Republicans in the House...Kind of one sided I would say - and Obama blames all things on Republicans. He should be ashamed of himself.

longleafpine
3689
Points
longleafpine 02/26/13 - 01:06 am
0
0
Furloughs

I have a daughter & son-in-law who are both teachers. They are very familiar with furloughs and they have two boys in college. That puts them in a bind.

There are probably quite a few employees at Ft. Gordon that have not experienced being furloughed. I am retired now (15 years, 5 months) and remember being furloughed. I was holding two jobs at that time so I had some income (not much) and still had two of my three children at home. It was no picnic, but we made it by cutting extras. By the way, because I had that part-time job, I could not file for unemployment.

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