Civilian personnel from March Air Reserve Base received furlough letters on Tuesday, as large portions of the United States Federal government shut its doors for the first time in 17 years.
Previously, the December 1995 – January 1996 government shutdown lasted 21 days during the Clinton Administration, and ended when President Clinton and Congress agreed to pass a compromise budget.
Here at March ARB, civilian government workers faced a repeat of history as more than 500 civilian personnel were subjected to the 2013 shutdown furlough.
A shutdown furlough (also called an emergency furlough), occurs when there is a lapse in appropriations. This can occur at the beginning of a fiscal year if no funds have been appropriated for that year; or upon expiration of a continuing resolution if a new continuing resolution or appropriations law is not passed. In a shutdown furlough, an affected agency would have to shut down any activities funded by annual appropriations that are not excepted by law. Typically, an agency will have very little, to no lead time, to plan and implement a shutdown furlough.
March ARB civilian employees affected by the shutdown furlough were given four hours from signing their furlough letter to attend to last minute items and vacate their work stations for the orderly closedown. In addition to vacating their work stations, they were reminded of the legalities they must adhere to while on a furloughed status.
“Employees are legally prohibited from performing work or acting as an unpaid volunteer. This includes coming to work, telework, attending training, using their Air Force issued laptops, or checking e-mail or Blackberries while on furlough.” said Maj. Deric Prescott, active duty Staff Judge Advocate with the 951st Reserve Support Squadron.
The furloughed civilian personnel and absence of appropriations will surely be disruptive to the Armed Forces. However, functions essential to national security and public safety will continue.
“March ARB will continue to operate on a bare bones basis with basic fire, police, and command and control functions manned. Flying training will not occur, but critical national defense missions will continue to be flown out of March and around the globe.” stated Col. Samuel “Bo” Mahaney, 452d Air Mobility Wing Commander. He went on to say that “Should the furloughs continue for a prolonged period, our state of readiness, training levels, and ability to conduct the mission could be adversely impacted.”
As uncertainty and concern loom in the air, Team March members not affected by the shutdown will continue to serve.
“The orderly transition to bare base operations went smoothly. This is a testament to the professionalism of our civilian workforce.” said Mahaney. “Even in the face of an indefinite furlough they never let their nation down. These men and women are anxious to get back to the business of providing for the nation’s security.”