More than 4K Ind. employees of DFAS face 20-percent pay cut

Budget cuts would cause DOD furlough

LAWRENCE, Ind. - More than 4,000 Indiana federal government workers could see a 20 percent pay cut soon.

People who work for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS, in Marion County are at the mercy of what happens in Washington, D.C., with the looming budget cuts set to kick in March 1.

Elaine Ashcraft, who has put in 26 years with the federal government, said she is preparing for the worst.

"It's pretty devastating," Ashcraft said. "I've already started thinking about and I put in some applications for part time."

Ashcraft works in Lawrence with DFAS, the payroll and accounting arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. 

Her big boss in Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, sent out a memo to DOD employees about furloughs that could go into effect soon. 

Panetta wrote that if sequestration does occur, DOD will be forced to place the vast majority of its civilian workforce on administrative furlough to save money.

"You know, that's a big hunk out of our pay," Ashcraft said.

The cut comes to about $800 a month for people like Ashcraft.

Lawrence Mayor Dean Jessup said local businesses will be hurt if the furloughs take place.

"It's very disconcerting to us," Jessup said. "It's my sincere hope that Congress gets it together and hammers out a deal so that these people can to go work with certainty tomorrow."

At a news conference in Washington Wednesday, Acting Under Secretary for Defense Jessica Wright said loss of pay won't only be felt by each employee, but it will also be felt in the business communities where they serve.

"If we don't have the money to pay our bills, do you think we're going to go out and spend it on electronics or we're going to go out to eat more? A lot of that is people are going to stop."

The DOD said employees will be notified in mid-March if the furloughs happen, decreasing their pay by 20 percent from April to September.

Panetta said the administration is still working with Congress to avoid the automatic budget cuts, but Ashcraft said she thinks the politicians in Washington have forgotten about people like her.

 

Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1

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