The agriculture department will not have to furlough employees at the Farm Service Agency (FSA) this fiscal year, and hopes to avoid putting workers at the rural development division on unpaid leave because of budget cuts.
If rural development escapes the furlough ax that means the department's roughly 94,000 employees are off the hook in fiscal 2013. An agriculture spokeswoman confirmed that furloughs are not on the table for any other agencies now in the department.
The department was able to avert furloughs at FSA by freezing hiring, cutting discretionary operating and contract expenses and transferring unused funds from a conservation program to cover salaries, an agriculture spokeswoman said. Secretary Tom Vilsack also notified congressional appropriators in an April 23 letter that he intends to use the department's special limited authority -- known as interchange transfer authority -- to shift money within the Rural Development division to avoid furloughs there. Congress has 30 days to review the request, so employees at Rural Development should know their fate by late May.
Reprinted in part from GovExec.com