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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Elizabeth White, Adrian Bridgwater

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AFGE: New GAO Report Proves Congress Must End Sequestration

Report documents harmful, lasting effects of budget cuts on American public

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report by the Government Accountability Office documenting the harmful and long-term effects of sequestration on the American public is clear proof that Congress must repeal the Budget Control Act, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said today.

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"The first year of sequestration forced agencies to slash employment benefits to millions of unemployed workers, cut scientific research into cures for deadly diseases, delay decisions on benefits claims for disabled workers, and forgo billions in revenue due to fewer audits and investigations," Cox said.

"And that's just the first year. Imagine what will happen if sequestration is allowed to drag on for 10 full years," Cox continued. "We have a temporary reprieve from sequestration for now, but Congress needs to end this nightmare once and for all."

The GAO report, "2013 Sequestration: Agencies Reduced Some Services and Investments, While Taking Certain Actions to Mitigate Effects," documents the various actions agencies were forced to take in response to the more than $80 billion in across-the-board budget cuts imposed by sequestration beginning in March 2013.

GAO says "sequestration reduced assistance for education, housing and nutrition, as well as health and science research and development grants. Agencies also reported delaying investments such as information technology and facilities projects. Some federal services also experienced backlogs and delays as a result of personnel actions including limiting hiring and furloughing employees."

Many of the effects of sequestration will never be known or are hard to quantify, GAO said. For example, officials at several agencies said they are concerned about the impact of sequestration on employee morale. More than 770,000 federal employees were furloughed for between one and seven days in response to sequestration, resulting in lost pay. The longer-term implications of sequestration could impact the government's ability to recruit, retain and properly train employees, GAO said.

"Slashing budgets without regard to the impact on citizens and the employees who deliver the programs and services those citizens rely on is a vicious and destructive way to govern," Cox said. "Congress needs to take GAO's findings to heart and come together to end sequestration before more harm can be done."

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

For the latest AFGE news and information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees

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