The budgetary uncertainties currently facing the Department of Defense, combined with a projected $1.8 billion shortfall in Air Force funding for overseas contingency operations, require prudent steps to mitigate budget execution risks, according to Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, Air Force Materiel Command commander.
“Based on guidance received last week from Headquarters Air Force, my intent is for AFMC to take immediate actions to reduce spending across all appropriations, Working Capital Funds and other reimbursable programs within AFMC’s governance authority,” she said. “In line with the Air Force direction, our actions will – to the maximum extent possible – be reversible or recoverable and minimize impacts to core readiness programs.”
The guidance came in a Jan. 14 memo sent to all major commands by Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer and Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Jamie Morin.
“These actions are necessary in order to support our DOD and our nation,” Wolfenbarger said. “However, we still have a requirement to continue the critical missions that we execute on behalf of the Air Force. Therefore, mission critical exceptions to these actions can be approved with discretion.”
In a Jan. 18 memo to AFMC’s five center commanders, Wolfenbarger listed key near-term actions AFMC will take to handle the uncertain budget environment ahead. Field commanders were told to:
- Implement a temporary civilian hiring freeze for permanent, temporary and term vacancies with exceptions for mission-critical activities, and release current temporary and term employees with exceptions for mission-critical activities; there are no current near-term plans to furlough civilians
- Review overseas contingency operations requirements and identify potential reductions which will not impair wartime operations, such as delaying asset reconstitution and incrementally funding OCO contracts
- Cancel all travel that is not mission critical, such as attendance at or hosting of conferences and symposia, staff assistance visits and training seminars
- Curtail flying not directly related to readiness, such as air shows, flyovers and familiarization rides
- Curtail or cancel ongoing and scheduled studies that are not Congressionally-directed or mission critical
- Limit supply purchases to essential fiscal 2013 consumption and stop minor purchases that are not mission critical, such as furniture, information technology refresh and unit equipment
- Defer non-emergency Facility Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization projects
- Where practical, de-obligate or incrementally fund severable service contracts that cross the fiscal year only to Oct. 31, 2013, and defer the remainder of the contract
“We don’t expect these near-term reductions to solve the entire fiscal challenge facing us in the event sequestration is triggered or we receive significant topline reductions,” the general said. “These near-term actions are only small steps towards absorbing the impact. Planning is underway for the possibility of larger reductions.”