Federal prison workers get furlough notices

RAY BROOK – Workers at the Federal Correctional Institution here have received furlough notices.

Corrections officers and other prison employees have told the Enterprise that furlough notices were sent out recently. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees nationwide could be furloughed as a result of automatic spending cuts brought on by the sequester.

Asked to confirm the furlough reports, FCI Ray Brook spokeswoman Michelle Gonyea directed all questions to Traci Billingsley of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. The Enterprise called Billingsley at a number provided by Gonyea and was subsequently directed to Adora Andy of the Department of Justice, who provided the Enterprise with a prepared statement from DOJ.

“Employees have been provided a notice of possible furlough, which is required at least 30 days, or in some cases 60 days, before any furloughs are implemented,” the statement said. “If a furlough decision is certain, the employee will receive the required decision notice. Managers will follow up with each affected employee on specific scheduling details.”

The Enterprise asked Gonyea for additional details about furloughs at the Ray Brook prison – like how many workers will be impacted, for how long and which employees – but was again directed to DOJ, which couldn’t provide specifics.

“The Department is still finalizing sequestration plans and we will need to reassess our impacts when final funding levels become available,” the statement said. “We have no specific announcements to make at this time.”

DOJ will absorb a $1.6 billion cut as a result of sequestration. That amounts to a 9 percent cut for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year.

“Department of Justice components are expected to carefully consider how to prioritize available resources to minimize the impact of sequestration on the Department’s ability to carry out essential functions,” the statement said.