Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
New Defense Health Agency to streamline functions
The government shutdown did not stop the official opening Oct. 1 of the Defense Health Agency, a major streamlining effort of military medicine that has been in the works for three decades and signed into law earlier this year.
“This day has been a long time in coming, and represents a major milestone in the history of the department and in military medicine,” Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, wrote in a message to staff.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Douglas Robb heads the new agency, which is to streamline health care among the Army, Navy and Air Force medical departments. The agency is charged with creating common business and clinical practices for the services and integrating functions that each has done separately, such as purchasing medical supplies and equipment.
In a message to staff, Robb acknowledged the budget challenges and government shutdown that coincided with the first day of operations for the DHA, saying, “How we deal with and overcome these challenges will be the true test of our character and our strength.”
TSP to continue operations during shutdown
As the closure of government offices and activities continues, the Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement savings program for federal employees and members of the uniformed services, will carry on operations.
Since neither the TSP nor the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board depend on congressional appropriations, investment activities will continue as usual, according to a TSP news release. In addition, current investments and resulting gains are held in trust for the participants and neither congress nor the administration has access to the funds.
If military pay and allowances for uniformed members will continue, so will any scheduled contribution allotments to the TSP funds. Civilian employees, on the other hand, have options to consider when it comes to additional furlough days.
Because the shutdown is expected to last only a short time, government agencies should not send a Form TSP-41, Notification to TSP of Nonpay, the release stated.
While federal employees are not paid during a furlough, TSP contributions from pay deductions will also stop and any contributions to Federal Employees’ Retirement System accounts will likewise be halted.
People … Our greatest source of strength
Editor’s note: This is Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody’s second Roll Call to Airmen. It’s a call for Airmen to come together, look to each other for support and to reach out to their teammates during the government shutdown.
Unfortunately we have begun this fiscal year without an agreement by our government on funding for our nation, and as a result the government has shut down and a new period of uncertainty has begun.
For many of us, questions about pay have been answered, but that is not the case for our entire team. Many of our Reserve, National Guard and Civilian Airmen, who serve our nation with honor and pride, have been sent home without pay.
The shutdown affects us all in different ways, beyond our paychecks. Concerns continue to emerge and generate questions, many without answers. The uncertainty and stress of those directly affected, specifically those furloughed, are tremendous and we need to be there for each other. We’re working to get you updated information as quickly as possible.
And of course, we have each other.
Shutdown hurts morale, top cyber commander says
The morale of the cybersecurity workforce is being damaged by the government shutdown, the nation’s top cyber commander said here today.
“What these people take an oath to do is to protect and defend this country and our civil liberties and privacy, and we’re telling them to stay at home,” said Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.
“How do you get good talent to come to government when you treat them like that?” he asked an audience of cybersecurity professionals during a conference at the Newseum.
The NSA is still performing its most critical functions: terrorism-related missions and those that protect life and limb, the general said. But, he noted, due to the shutdown the agency risks losing some of its most vulnerable employees — young people new to government service.
The loss of trust in the NSA caused by recent leaks has further damaged employee morale, Alexander said.