He said the department has to cut $41 million from its budget, $5 million less than originally thought, CNN reported. That means employees face 14 days of unpaid leave instead of 22, which would have meant the loss of one day of pay every week from May through September.
"We are going to be able to reduce and delay these furloughs but not eliminate them," Hagel said.
The across-the-board budget cuts kicked in when Congress and President Obama were unable to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. Across the federal government, about 2 million employees face 10-14 furlough days before Oct. 1, when the new budget year begins.