WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force officials announced additional civilian workforce shaping initiatives March 26 in compliance with mandatory funding targets and continuing civilian workforce rebalance to meet skill demands for fiscal 2014 and beyond.
The programs will run in parallel with military programs, said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.
The initiatives are part of ongoing military programs designed to maintain a smaller, more streamlined, ready and capable force in the future, Cox said.
“We recognize the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce but must manage within (Defense) Department fiscal constraints to meet the mission needs of the years to come,” he said.
The Air Force will continue maximizing its Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay in the second round of programs to entice employees who are eligible to leave federal service to do so voluntarily. These programs offer early retirement for employees who are considering life outside of federal service and up to $25,000 for employees whose voluntary separation would save another employee from being involuntarily separated.
“The Defense Department is going through an intense period of budgetary challenges and we are using every force shaping tool available on both the military and civilian side to lessen the impacts on our force,” said Col. Brian Kelly, the director of force management policy for the Air Force. “And, while aggressive, the plan to reduce the size of the force provides long-term stability beyond (fiscal 2015).”
Following the same basic criteria for the earlier round of VERA/VSIP programs announced in December, surveys will again be distributed to a number of employees targeting specific occupations and locations. Additionally, these surveys will expand to reach a broader number of employees potentially impacted by the Secretary of Defense-directed 20 percent headquarters staff reductions.
The Air Force is committed to fully exhausting all voluntary workforce rebalancing and shaping programs, including the special authorities associated with a reduction in force, to help avoid involuntary separations, Kelly said.
Reduction-in-force authorities allow reassignment flexibility for civilians to be placed at their installations while retaining their grade or pay or both. The authorities also permit managers and hiring authorities to waive qualifications and expand the number of potential placement opportunities for employees currently assigned to abolished positions.
Implementing RIF procedures also permits eligible employees who cannot immediately be placed in local vacancies to be registered in the Priority Placement Program to assist in placement in other job positions where they qualify.
Kelly noted that the Air Force’s strategy to meet civilian pay budget targets does not include a furlough and that involuntary separations from federal service will only be sought as a last resort, if required.
“We simply cannot accomplish the mission without our civilian Airmen, and that won’t change even after reductions,” Kelly said.