Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank wrote a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, outlining the potentials effects sequestration would have on the department and all of its sub-agencies, including NOAA, the Census Bureau and NIST.
Blank said sequestration will cut $551 million from the Department of Commerce over the rest of this fiscal year.
“Sequestration would have both short-term and long-term impacts on the Department’s ability to deliver on critical parts of our mission and would have a sizable economic cost for the Nation,” Blank wrote. “All bureaus would see impacts to their missions as they implement hiring freezes, curtail or cancel training, and halt critical program investments needed to strengthen performance and improve efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
Some highlights from the letter:
- Up to 2,600 NOAA employees would have to be furloughed, approximately 2,700 positions would not be filled, and the number of contractors would have to be reduced by about 1,400.
- Sequestration would have to cut a total of $46 million from the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau will be forced to significantly cut contract dollars and not fill hundreds of vacancies, pushing back research and testing for the 2020 Decennial Census as well as seriously delaying the release of critical economic and demographic data needed for this calendar year.
- Delays in developmental work for the 2020 Decennial Census will increase the risk that the Census Bureau will not be ready to make major departures from past operational designs that are intended to save money without diminishing quality.
- Cuts to the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) would hinder the bureau’s ability to leverage private sector resources to support projects that would spur local job creation. The sequester would likely result in more than 1,000 fewer jobs than expected to be created, and more than $47 million in private sector investment is likely to be left untapped.
- The cuts at NIST would largely fall on grants, contracts, equipment procurements, deferment of open positions, and cuts in the repair and maintenance of NIST facilities that will negatively impact NIST’s ability to keep them in acceptable working condition.
- Sequestration will also force a cut of $4.9 million from the Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).