Arnold Engineering preparing for possible cuts to defense budget

Associated Press • Feb 9, 2013 at 6:28 AM

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. -- Officials at Arnold Engineering Development Complex are making plans to deal with potentially deep cuts to the federal defense budget.

Officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/W0e5v6) that employee cuts are not anticipated, but other actions to reduce spending may be taken. They include a civilian hiring freeze, canceling non-essential flights and putting limits on supply orders.

Congress has postponed until March 1 about $1 trillion in domestic and defense budget cuts, which would equal about $500 billion in reductions of Pentagon spending over a decade.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts could lead to hundreds of thousands of civilian workers being furloughed and thousands of temporary and contract workers being laid off.

Lawmakers are trying to reach an agreement on cuts that would be less disruptive.

In the meantime, military installations including Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, are preparing for the possible impacts.

Arnold Engineering Development Complex spokesman Jason Austin said the effects on employees would be minimal.

"The guidance that came out (from Air Force Materiel Command) basically instructed us to let go of all our temporary employees," Austin said. "Here at Arnold, there were only two temporary employees, and one of those temporary employees had already given his two-week notice."

He said some measures have already been taken.

"We've implemented a hiring freeze, so we won't be doing any more hiring in the government-civilian side in the near term," he said.

The main focus at Arnold is on research, development and testing of flight and missile technologies. Although U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley has advocated for protecting such programs, Austin said staff is ready if more reductions are ordered.

"We don't know what the future looks like at this point," he said. "Our workforce throughout the last 60 years has been very flexible, so we continue to flex."


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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