DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that the total number of days DoD civilian employees will be furloughed has been reduced from 11 to six.

According to DoD, this means that furloughs will end by August 17 for almost all DoD civilian employees. Furloughs will end immediately for DoD Education Activity personnel who are on 10-month contracts (teachers and support personnel) to avoid affecting the 2013 school year.

Initially, DoD set the number of furlough days at 22, but in March lowered it to 14.  At that time Hagel said he hoped DoD could further reduce the number of furlough days. In May, after reviewing final congressional action on the FY2013 DoD Appropriations bill and the DoD budgetary situation, Hagel reduced the number of furlough days to 11. Again, Hagel said he would like to cut the number of furlough days, but made no promises. The Military Services and DoD Components began to implement furloughs early last month.

Now, with less than two months left in the fiscal year and after a further review of the budgetary situation, Hagel cut the number of total furlough days to six.

Hagel described the actions that have been taken by DoD and the Congress that will allow DoD to reduce the number of furlough days. He said the primary reasons for the decision were congressional approval of a sizable reprogramming to move funds from acquisition to operating accounts, less than expected costs in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), and savings achieved from furlough days already taken. “While we are still depending on furlough savings, we will be able to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced,” he said.

But, Hagel warned that unless an agreement is reached to change the sequestration requirement of the Budget Control Act, DoD will have to cut another $52 billion in FY2014. As to whether furloughs would be required under sequestration next year, He said “I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.”