Bracing for the possibility of budget sequestration next month, the Homeland Security Department is making plans to furlough as many as 1,000 Secret Service agents, officers and others employees, officials say.
Homeland Security issued its first agency-wide memorandum late last week preparing for sequestration, the sweeping automatic budget cuts set to take effect as early as March 1 under a prior deal between the White House and Congress to reduce the deficit. The Feb. 6 memo advised all federal employees that the “department leadership is engaged in extensive planning efforts” determining how best to deal with the potential budget cuts.
The memo, obtained by the Washington Guardian, hints at specific areas DHS officials are looking to reduce costs, including “operational or administrative costs in areas such as travel, facilities, and supplies.”
DHS officials also warned that they may “have to consider placing employees on temporary furlough, or taking other personnel actions, should sequestration occur. With respect to furloughs, all affected employees would be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough.”
The Secret Service, which beyond protecting the president also investigates major financial crimes, is among the agency targeted for extensive furloughs. A Homeland Security official, with knowledge of the impending cuts, told the Washington Guardian that the Secret Service “is looking at reducing their forces by up to a thousand people” but added that “all federal agencies are facing drastic cuts if sequestration happens.”
Secret Service Spokesman Brian Leary said he could not comment on the agency’s sequestration preparations, referring all questions to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
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