OMB: Shutdown cost Pentagon 1.6M furlough days

Last month’s 16-day government shutdown cost the Pentagon 1.6 million employee days due to furloughs, according to a new report from the Obama administration.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report on the shutdown said there were 1.6 million furlough days for civilians at the Pentagon, nearly a quarter of the 6.6 million furloughs taken throughout the federal government.

The report said the furloughs cost the federal government at least $2 billion.

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The number of days lost at the Pentagon could have been higher, too, but 95 percent of Pentagon employees who were initially furloughed were back on the job after one week due to a law Congress passed to pay service members and Pentagon employees.

Roughly 350,000 Defense Department civilian employees were furloughed for the first week of the shutdown.

The Pentagon’s furloughs became one of the major side battles in Congress during the shutdown fight, with Republicans accusing the administration of trying to inflict pain on the military by furloughing civilians in the first place.

They argued that the “Pay Our Military Act,” which was passed in the hours before the shutdown took effect Oct. 1, allowed the Pentagon to avoid furloughs all of its civilian workers. Service members were exempted from furloughs.

Pentagon officials said that the law did not give them blanket authority to bring furloughed workers back on the job, and they had to determine which civilian positions were in support of service members.

The OMB report released Thursday listed the manpower used to interpret the law as one of the costs of the shutdown.

“At the Department of Defense, civilian and military employees at hundreds of installations across the United States and around the world spent thousands of hours developing and implementing plans for managing a shutdown, implementing the Pay Our Military Act and restarting full operations,” the report said.