US Courts Memo Urges Hiring Freeze, Spending Cuts as Congress Mulls Belt-Tightening Budget

Out of an “abundance of caution,” a memo (PDF) circulated yesterday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is calling on federal judges to institute immediate belt-tightening measures and plan for a possible shutdown, following approval last week by the House of Representatives of a Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

The proposed spending program trims $100 million from what the judicial branch had sought and $200 million from the amount that would be needed to maintain current staff levels, the memo says, and since the fiscal year is already underway it potentially presents significant challenges. Among the measures the memo urges are a hiring freeze for all but essential positions and elimination of bonuses and pay raises until the situation resolves, reports the Blog of Legal Times, which provides a copy of the memo.

In a worst-case scenario, a wave of staff layoffs and even a temporary shutdown, if the House and Senate cannot agree on a 2011 budget, could occur, the memo states. “Although Congressional leaders have said they want to avoid a shutdown, we are developing contingency plans in the event a shutdown occurs.”

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