Federal agencies

GAO report outlines safety agency sequestration adjustments

Washington – OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration shifted more than $15 million in funding from education to enforcement efforts due to last year’s sequestration, according to a Government Accountability Office report released March 6.

Across-the-board budget cuts – known as sequestration – were ordered on March 1, 2013, as a result of Congress failing to reach a deficit-reduction agreement. GAO said OSHA took $11 million intended for education, outreach and assistance activities and reprogrammed it for enforcement. MSHA reprogrammed $4.4 million from compliance assistance to enforcement.

DOL officials told GAO that the reprogramming was done because they believed reductions in education and outreach would have less of an immediate effect on worker safety. However, DOL officials expressed concern that the lack of workplace safety regulatory education and outreach could result in increased safety and health violations in upcoming years, the report states.

Long-term planning also becomes difficult under unstable budget situations, DOL told GAO, and the sequestration could affect how the department maintains its functions.