Pentagon comptroller says no furloughs past September

In a move that directly affects almost 20,000 Hawaii-based civilian employees of the Defense Department, Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale says no furloughs will be undertaken beyond the end of the current budget year Sept. 30.

"We will look for other options," Hale says. "They may not be pleasant, and they may force us into some difficult choices."

Hale, speaking to a Web conference of the Association of Government Accountants, said, "We want to start doing this with more of a scalpel and less of a meat ax."

Jared Serbu of Federal News Radio in Washington D.C., said Hale specified this could include "involuntary separations" of enlisted personnel.

Carlos Munoz of The Hill, a newspaper that covered Congress, picked up the story and added that the comment was in contrast with previous DOD comments that had seemed to leave open the option of extended civilian furloughs.

The American Forces Press Service said Hale described DOD as starting the next fiscal year Oct. 1 in "a state of damaged readiness."

Hawaii has already seen more than 100 layoffs by defense contractors, with more to come as ship maintainance is deferred and training is canceled.

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