DCAA employees have now received their long-awaited letters proposing an 11 day furlough - one day a week from July through September of 2013. Since this furlough is cumulatively over 80 hours, employees will also lose an accrual of sick and vacation pay. In addition, according to Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, furloughs may not end in September. She stated that looking at the FY 2014 budget numbers suggested by the White House and both sides in Congress, DoD may very well have to plan for another round of sequestration and furloughs. Under the federal process, once an employee receives a proposal for furlough, an individual can present a case to the deciding official on why they feel like they should be excepted from the furlough. Then the deciding official will make a final decision. Since this is a DoD initiative and exceptions apply to very few DCAA employees, the furloughs are expected to be upheld.
Why am I mentioning all of this? Because the furloughs will delay audit work in both obvious and not so obvious ways. The most obvious is that there will be 20 percent fewer audit hours available to be incurred. Maybe not so obvious is the impact on productivity of the hours worked.
The DCAA guidance dictates that all furlough days be taken one per week, each occurring on a Monday or Friday. Already the “discussions” over who is going to be off when have begun. In addition, rumor has it that the Union is trying to motivate employees to challenge the furloughs by requesting exceptions. Fewer productive hours worked.
Employee morale is at an all-time low. One long term DCAA manager calls this a “low point in my career.” Fewer productive hours worked.
How about all of the senior employees already eligible to retire? What incentive is there for them to continue to work when 20 percent of their pay is cut? When a supervisor retires, typically they will leave a backlog of work to be reviewed. It will take weeks to fill the vacancy and then an inexperienced supervisor will be expected to supervise employees with less experience, review the backlog, and give current audit advice – all with much less knowledge than the person they replaced. The person who left them the backlog. More time spent “learning” and fewer productive hours worked.
For contractors who want incurred cost audits finished so they can close out contracts, or system follow up audits performed to clear up system deficiencies, or proposals audited for contract award, this could not be worse news. In an effort to finish audits quicker, auditors may request shorter response times from contractors, without regard to the fact that the auditors will be there fewer hours to review the responses. Many audits already are awaiting supervisory/management review before issuance. Now supervisors/managers will be busy adjudicating which employees will work which days and responding to requests for exceptions – all in fewer hours per week.
The only silver lining to this cloud is that the statute of limitations may run out on more and more incurred cost proposals, thus exempting them from audit.