Restructuring impacts base

by Lynis Cox
Air University Public Affairs

11/7/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al  -- Base officials announced, during town hall meetings held Nov. 3, the number of civilian positions being eliminated at Maxwell-Gunter during first-round restructuring efforts aimed at leveling civilian growth to fiscal year 2010 levels. According to civilian personnel officials, the number of civilian positions being eliminated from unit manpower documents is 97, with about 50 percent of those being vacant positions.

Officials stressed elimination of positions currently filled does not translate to people being involuntary separated at this time. The Air Force and the local personnel office are continuing to pursue all available voluntary force management measures to avoid involuntary measures.

"The secretary of defense directed manpower costs be maintained at the fiscal 2010 levels, and the Air Force is conducting a strategic review of the entire Air Force civilian workforce to ensure civilian authorizations are correctly aligned to meet mission priorities," said Col. Brian Killough, 42nd Air Base Wing commander. "Our position reductions are part of the overall Air Force workforce restructure."

"There is not a direct correlation between the number of encumbered positions being eliminated and the number of people who may be separated," said Don Comstock, civilian personnel officer. "We are continually looking at flexibilities to place impacted employees, and we will rely on the assistance of leadership across the base to help us in our effort to take care of our employees."

Like the rest of the Air Force, Maxwell-Gunter has been under hiring controls since May, with a complete freeze on filling positions since mid-August. Voluntary early retirement and voluntary separation incentive applications from Maxwell-Gunter employees garnered 12 approvals, which could lead to vacancies that could result in placing impacted employees in those positions.

Overall, the Air Force focused on reducing positions in overhead and support areas while minimizing the impact to functions tied to operations and maintenance, acquisition excellence and the nuclear enterprise. Of the positions being eliminated at Maxwell-Gunter, many are in the services and civil engineering functions.

"The Air Force can't afford to do business 'the way it always has been done' in the current budget environment," Killough said. "We must find ways to accomplish the mission within the budgetary constraints of the current fiscal environment while maintaining good faith with our Airmen and their families - military, civilians and contractors."

Air Force officials recognize the current round of identified civilian position eliminations is the first in a fast-paced transformation to make manpower meet money. Civilian workforce restructure is an ongoing process to focus on Air Force priorities and take an enterprisewide approach to identify reductions.

Once the Air Force finalizes the first round of voluntary early retirements and voluntary separation incentives, an additional 4,500 civilian positions will be identified for elimination to reach the fiscal year 2012 president's budget target. To alleviate as much involuntary action as possible, officials anticipate a second round of VERA and VSIP possibly in early spring.

"We have difficult decisions and processes to undertake," Killough said. "Our people are our greatest asset, and we will do everything possible for them as we proceed through this stressful process and time of uncertainty. I understand and take very seriously the impact on each person and their families."