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NOAA Cuts Deal with Congress To Avoid Furloughs

Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, a former space shuttle astronaut, informed employees late May 31 that the Department of Commerce had transmitted a plan to Congress that will allow NOAA to avoid furloughing any of its 12,000 employees. Credit: SpaceNews photo by Johnny Bivera

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told its 12,000 employees late last night (May 31) that it had cut a deal with Congress to avoid sequester-related furloughs. 

“I’m pleased to report that this evening the Department of Commerce transmitted a plan to Congress that will avoid all furloughs in NOAA. This was possible because of an increase in flexibility in how we use our funding within the Department, “ acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan wrote in an all-hands memo sent out at 11:39 p.m. EDT. “Because of this new development we are cancelling our intent to furlough all 12,000 of our employees.”

Her entire memo is reproduced below:

 

From: “Dr. Kathy Sullivan” <[email protected]>

Date: May 31, 2013, 23:39:19 EDT

Subject: Update: Sequestration and Furloughs

 

Message from the Acting Under Secretary

To All Employees,

The events over the past week, including more devastating tornadoes tonight in Oklahoma and Missouri, remind us how important every single employee within NOAA is to the health, safety, and well-being of this nation.  I want to thank you all for continued commitment and dedication even in times of danger to your lives, families, and property.  The work you do truly is important to each and every American from coast to coast.

That is precisely why I’m pleased to report that this evening the Department of Commerce transmitted a plan to Congress that will avoid all furloughs in NOAA. This was possible because of an increase in flexibility in how we use our funding within the Department. 

Because of this new development we are cancelling our intent to furlough all 12,000 of our employees.

As you all know, sequestration required NOAA to make significant cuts to its budget for the remainder of this fiscal year.  We had to make some painful decisions and choices – but all of those decisions were aimed at mitigating effects on our critical missions and services, and our employees.  We have implemented a hiring freeze, limited travel and training, and cut grant and contract funding, in addition to many others. 

For weeks, we have been working diligently to present a plan that represented the best way to ensure that we met these goals within the financial resources we have been given.  When we initially received our appropriation in late March, some of our colleagues were facing up to 10 days of furlough, while others were facing up to 20.  This was neither acceptable nor executable. Therefore, we looked for every other option possible to manage through these serious fiscal challenges, including the proposal we have been communicating with all of you this past month.

While this new plan allows us to avoid furloughs, sequestration remains an ongoing challenge.  We must all continue to scrutinize every expense and prioritize our most critical missions and essential operations. 

I know the past two months have been difficult and uncertain.  Our number one priority during this time was to protect our mission and our employees. I’m glad that the Department was able to support this goal.  I will continue to share information as I am able and encourage your Line and Staff Office Directors to do the same.

 

Thank you – 

Kathy

 

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