The Office of Management and Budget released further guidelines to federal agencies on Monday, calling for them to increase planning for sequestration and the uncertain fiscal environment.
The memo, though, fell short of telling agencies to take direct action now, instead told them to plan accordingly and take a wait and see approach.
“Agencies presented with these circumstances should continue to act in a prudent manner to ensure that operational risks are avoided and adequate funding is available for the remainder ofthe fiscal year to meet the agency’s core requirements and mission,” the memo states.
It continues, “Should circumstances require an agency to take actions that would constitute a change from normal practice and result in a reduction of normal spending and operations in the immediate- or near-term, the agency must coordinate closely with its OMB Resource Management Office before taking any such actions.”
The memo did outline a number of guiding principles for federal agencies to use when preparing plans to operate with reduced budgetary resources.
According to the memo, the guidelines are:
- use any available flexibility to reduce operational risks and minimize impacts on the agency’s core mission in service of the American people;
- identify and address operational challenges that could potentially have a significant deleterious effect on the agency’s mission or otherwise raise life, safety, or health concerns;
- identify the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs where necessary this may include imposing hiring freezes, releasing temporary employees or not renewing term or contract hires, authorizing voluntary separation incentives and voluntary early retirements, or implementing administrative furloughs (appropriate guidance for administrative furloughs can be found on the OPM website [herel); consistent with Section 3(a)(ii) of Executive Order 13522, allow employees’ exclusive representatives to have pre-decisional involvement in these matters to the fullest extent practicable;
- review grants and contracts to determine where cost savings may be achieved in a manner that is consistent with the applicable terms and conditions, remaining mindful of the manner in which individual contracts or grants advance the core mission ofthe agency;
- take into account funding flexibilities, including the availability o f reprogramming and transfer authority; and,
- be cognizant of the requirements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2109.