Inspectors Won’t be Furloughed on Holidays, USDA Says
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal meat and poultry inspectors will not be furloughed without pay on any holiday this year to help reduce the Agriculture Department’s budget, officials said Thursday.
Instead of the unpaid three-holiday furlough originally announced, all employees of the inspection agency - secretaries and senior officials as well as inspectors - will be furloughed on two work days without pay, said Donald L. Houston, administrator of the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
″Under our budget situation, we still see the need for a furlough for all employees,″ Houston said. ″However, because our cost-cutting measures were more successful than anticipated, we will limit the furlough to two days.″
The agency has about 9,000 employees, including a national inspection force of more than 7,000.
Houston said the furlough will occur in the last two work days of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, allowing ample lead time in case plans have to be revised again.
If a supplemental appropriation of $3.7 million now in Congress is approved, no furlough will be necessary.
Initially, the agency proposed to furlough meat and poultry inspectors on three holidays, Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. However, the Memorial Day furlough was canceled earlier this week.
The agency’s spending was ordered to be cut back $15.6 million under the Gramm-Rudman balanced-budget law. Most was accomplished through employment attrition and other economy measures but still fell short.