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750 at KAFB to avoid furloughs

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About 750 National Nuclear Security Administration-funded civilian employees at Kirtland Air Force Base will be able to avoid planned furloughs, an NNSA official said Wednesday.

“While we have staff located at facilities on KAFB, none of them are being furloughed,” Josh McConaha, director of public affairs for the NNSA, said in an email.

“So far we have managed to avoid federal furloughs by reining in spending as we adopted a strategic approach to hiring, and we offered a voluntary incentive separation payment to help get our rolls down while shaping our workforce to retain the most critical skills.”

McConaha also said the agency has reduced its support services contracts and employee travel.

The planned furloughs were a result of the automatic, across-the-board “sequestration” cuts triggered by Congress’ inability to reach agreement on a deficit-cutting plan.

When first announced in March, the Defense Department said the furloughs would force about 800,000 civilian employees, with very few exceptions, to take 22 unpaid days off during the last 22 weeks of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. When Congress approved a new spending bill at the end of March, it gave the Pentagon greater latitude to find savings, and the furlough days were cut to 14.

The Defense Department announced plans Tuesday to furlough about 680,000 of its civilian employees for 11 days through the end of this fiscal year, and included a number of exemptions.

The cuts are still likely to affect about 2,100 Defense Department-funded, civilian employees at Kirtland Air Force Base, and some 4,000 other workers at New Mexico military installations.

Earlier this week, Kirtland spokeswoman Marie Vanover said affected employees at the base will take 16 to 20 furlough hours during the first pay period after the furloughs take effect. After that, employees can request consecutive furlough days.

The NNSA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy and works to improve national security through the military application of nuclear energy.

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