On Saturday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that “most” of the Pentagon’s 400,000 furloughed civilian employees will return to work starting Monday. The Pentagon, interpreting the Pay Our Military Act—a measure passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama just before the Government Shutdown to commit to paying military servicemen through the closure—is applying it to civilian officers.
Hagel’s written statement—recognizing the important contribution all his employees make to national security—says the law does not allow for a blanket recall of employees but according to federal attorneys, “employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” are permitted to return.
— George Little (@PentagonPresSec) October 5, 2013
The Secretary is just back from a review of US troops in Asia. After a Thursday meeting with Japanese military and diplomatic officials, Secretary of State John Kerry surprised Hagel with a birthday cake (pictured above) to celebrate his 67th birthday, which was yesterday. Hagel formerly represented Nebraska as a Senator (1996-2009) and is the first enlisted combat veteran to hold the office of defense secretary, taking office last February.
Defense Department officers are advised to stand by for more details over the weekend as Pentagon officials have been instructed by Hagel to, “identify all employees whose activities fall under these categories.” No numbers yet on how many of the total 400,000 will be returning.
The Department of Defense employs sufficient numbers to call itself, "the nation's largest employer." The website lists more than 1.4 million active duty servicemen and women, over 700,000 civilian officers, 1.1 million National Guard and Reserves and over 2 million beneficiaries (military retirees and families).
Hagel closes his statement with the following: “I will continue to urge Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities to pass a budget and restore full funding for the Department of Defense and the rest of the government.”[Image via Department of Defense official site.]