When it comes to sequester timelines, federal agencies aren’t talking.
Asked when specific effects will be felt, officials at three federal departments declined to discuss the timing of sequester cuts and their consequences. Some departments are waiting for Obama’s sequester order, and subsequent guidance they’ll receive from the Office of Management and Budget, before talking about what will and won’t happen and when.
“There’s no calendar of dates for specific actions or cuts on specific dates. Again, these cuts need to be applied equally across all agency programs, activities and projects. There will be wide variation on when impacts will occur depending on a given program,” HHS public affairs officer Bill Hall told ABC News.
Some cuts won’t be felt for a while, because they have to do with government layoffs–which require 30 days notice, in most cases. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration won’t begin layoffs until at least April 7, one FAA official estimated.
That means air traffic won’t get backed up until next month because of layoffs. Similarly, furloughs at FBI, ATF, and Customs and Border Patrol won’t happen for another month–meaning various warnings about compromised national security can’t come true until April, either.
But some cuts don’t involve furloughs, and could conceivably be felt immediately.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the timeline of layoffs to cybersecurity contractors and first responders funded through states, as well as limited Coast Guard operations and cuts to FEMA disaster relief.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it could not comment on cuts to housing vouchers, rent assistance for AIDS patients, maintenance for housing projects.
The Department of Health and Human Services declined to discuss the specific timing of cuts to Head Start services, low-income mental-health services, AIDS/HIV testing, and inpatient substance-abuse treatment.
So even as the sequester looms imminently, we won’t know when some of its worst effects will be felt until next week.