The majority of Fort Leonard Wood’s furloughed Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Army (DA) civilian employees are returning to work.
A lapse in appropriated funding for government operations Oct. 1 resulted in the temporary furlough of many of the more than 3,600 DoD and DA civilians working at Fort Leonard Wood in various agencies.
However, on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a large majority of the furloughs to be recalled.
He based his decision on a Pentagon interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act, which was passed shortly before the partial government shutdown began.
Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the act does not permit a blanket recall of all Pentagon civilians.
Instead, government attorneys concluded that it does allow the department to “eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”
Unless otherwise instructed by their supervisor, DoD and DA civilian employees at Fort Leonard Wood were asked to report to work Monday or their next scheduled duty day.
Civilian employees working for non-Army DoD entities at Fort Leonard Wood are being asked to check with their organization for instruction.
Robert Hale, the Pentagon's budget chief, said that even with this relief, the effect of the furloughs has been severe.
"We've seriously harmed civilian morale; this (recall) will be a start back," he said.
This is the second time this year, Department of Defense civilians employees at Fort Leonard Wood have been placed on furloughs.
In early July, it was announced that about 3,400 employee furloughs would take effect from July 8 to Sept. 30 as part of a $487 billion reduction in the DoD funding which is based on the Budget Control Act of 2011.
However, in an Aug. 6 memo from the Hagel, furloughs for most DoD civilians were reduced from 11 days (88 hours) to six days (48 hours).
Hagel stated at that time that military services had been aggressive in identifying ways to hold down costs and were successful in shifting savings (including furlough savings) to meet the department’s highest priority needs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.