The Department of Defense has been given guidance from the Office of Management and Budget to plan for sequestration, less than a month from when the cuts are scheduled to take place, unless Congress comes to a debt resolution.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said during a news conference on Wednesday that DOD still hopes Congress will avoid the sequestration cuts that will take effect Jan. 2, 2013.
“We are consulting with the Office of Management and Budget and have been instructed to pursue internal planning on sequestration,” Little said. “We are at the very start. We don’t have all of the details firmed up. Naturally, we hope very much that sequestration will be avoided. We don’t want to go off the fiscal cliff.”
Senior defense officials, led by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, have warned Congress since the Budget Control Act was passed that sequestration would be a disaster for national security.
The process would cut the DOD budget by $500 billion. This would be on top of the $487 billion in cuts already planned.
Leaders throughout the Pentagon have been told up to this point to not plan for sequestration and to operate at planned funding level until OMB delivered its guidance this week.
“We are going to have to do some detailed planning at some point on the numbers and the specific consequences of sequestration, which we’ve anticipated and already talked about,” Little said.
Little said that the impact of sequestration will not begin all at once, he said, but he believes the department will have some months at the beginning of 2013 to put in place directives and policies to carry out the law.
“We expect in our planning efforts to identify not just numbers, but how we communicate to our 3-million-plus workforce, to prepare them for what may come down the pike,” he said.