The furlough has been lifted at the Pentagon for some civilian employees. During the second week of the government shut down thousands of workers headed back to work after Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel released a recall memo last Saturday. In the memo Hagel explained the Pay Our Military Act (POMA) offers appropriations for some Department of Defense personnel to continue working during government closures through fiscal year 2014.
DoD and DOJ attorneys concluded that the law (POMA) does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees "whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," said Hagel. Government lawyers initially misinterpreted the funding law, which had just taken effect on September 30, 2013, the day before Congress called for the shutdown.
Hagel's orders clarifies it was unnecessary to furlough numerous workers who did not report to the Pentagon last week. As the employer of 350,000, the Pentagon has the largest share of the 800,000 workers affected by the furlough. POMA puts a welcome dent in the numbers but not all Pentagon Civilians are in the clear.
There are two categories of employees whose jobs are protected under POMA according to Hagel: those whose roles directly affect Force readiness and roles that support "service members performing active service and their families on an ongoing basis."
"Consequently, I am now directing the military departments and other DOD components to move expeditiously to identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories. I expect us to be able to significantly reduce – but not eliminate – civilian furloughs under this process," Hagel said.
Meanwhile, President Obama and Congress continue to debate about putting the end of the government shut down to a vote.