NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The absence of funding sent 1,100 Nellis civilians home Oct. 1 as congressional negotiations failed to produce a solid budget for fiscal 2014. The financial shortfalls prompted the base to start an orderly shutdown of activities.
Services and organizations throughout Nellis and Creech AFB’s were forced to shut their doors. Both of the base’s education offices were closed, 99th Force Support Squadron ID card production facilities were closed and the commissary was shut down among others. Tuition assistance submitted by Airmen also has been suspended.
So why is the golf course still open? The explanation lies at the source of funding.
The base programs and facilities shut down as a result of the government’s closure were all reliant on appropriated funds.
Appropriated funds, according to Mr. William Lane, 99th FSS deputy director, are funds appropriated by Congress allotted in the annual budget. When budget deliberations on Capitol Hill continued through the Oct. 1 deadline, preventative measures were set in motion that eliminated funding for “non-essential” activities. The funding provided by Congress to run these programs, as important as they may be, stopped and these activities could no longer operate.
The programs not affected by the government shutdown are the ones that were never reliant on the government funding in the first place; these programs operate off of non-appropriated funds.
“Non-appropriated funds are generated by us here on the base,” Lane said. “Whether it [is] through sales activity or other fees and charges for service, these programs are considered self-sustaining.”
According to Air Force Instruction 34-201, Use of Non-Appropriated Funds, NAF’s are to be used for the collective benefit of military personnel, their families, and authorized civilians. These funds support morale, welfare, and recreation programs, lodging, religious programs, educational opportunities and others.
NAF Operations such as the Sunrise Vista Golf Course and the Nellis Club are examples of activities that function solely off revenue from sales, fees and charges. Like any traditional business operation, revenue is then used to fund daily operations and needed capital reinvestments.
“These programs generate the revenue needed to operate, while other programs [like the Commissary] are dependent on taxpayer funding,” Lane said.
Congress didn’t meet the budget deadline Oct. 1, and taxpayer funding was no longer available. The programs dependent on that funding were forced to cease operations. The NAF facilities; however, were able to continue normal operations.