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Thanks to successful efforts in identifying cost savings across the Defense Department and to Congress' support in allowing DOD to shift money across its spending accounts, the Pentagon is able to reduce from 11 to six the number of unpaid furlough days that DOD civilian employees have to take by the end of the fiscal year, announced Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday. Hagel informed DOD's workforce of this decision in a message, along with a memorandum to Pentagon senior leadership. Hagel's decision means that the furloughs will be over on Aug. 17 for most of the Pentagon's 650,000 civilian workers who had to start taking one day of unpaid leave per week after July 8, defense officials told reporters on Aug 6. during a Pentagon briefing. Looking ahead to Fiscal 2014, which starts on Oct. 1, DOD still faces "major fiscal challenges" if the budget sequester continues, stated Hagel in his message. The Pentagon would be forced to cut $52 billion from its budget—40 percent more than the $37 billion in cuts it had to absorb in Fiscal 2013. "Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs," said Hagel. (Background briefing transcript)