RIF impacts on Maxwell civilians

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

5/10/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al  -- Base civilians learned the mechanics of how the reduction in force, or RIF, set for Aug. 23 will reduce approximately 27 local surplus employee positions at Maxwell and Gunter during two town hall forums at the Squadron Officer College and the Air Force Senior NCO Academy May 3.

"Last time we met we talked about furloughs, and during that meeting and discussion we promised that we would be open and transparent and honest. So that's why we're here today," said Col. Trent Edwards, 42nd Air Base Wing commander.

Unrelated to the possible furloughs or sequestration, efforts began in 2011 to find placements for those employees not assigned to funded positions, labeled "surplus," in an effort to rebalance the workforce and help meet Department of Defense budget requirements.

The current RIF will affect 60 Air Force installations, which are required to reduce more than 1,000 civilian positions. The RIF allows base leadership flexibility to reassign employees to positions at the same grade or pay.

For more than a year and a half, employees assigned to abolished positions have either been reassigned, detailed or remained in the abolished positions. Employees separated from the force in the RIF will be registered in the DOD's Priority Placement Program, where they will have priority to be placed in another federal position.

The good news, according to Edwards, is Maxwell's civilian personnel section has been stockpiling positions for possible placement of employees impacted by the current RIF.

"We have a stockpile of vacant positions that we can start to look at putting people into," he said. "Then we look at the number of vacancies that we have and try to match their skill-set into those positions."

The RIF essentially creates a competitive environment for those employees vying for available positions. Within the arena of competition are two rounds. The first round compares employees with similar and interchangeable positions based on their duties, series and grade, explained Tonda White, supervisory human resource specialist.

White said that she, her team of RIF experts and the Air Force Personnel Center will review everyone's employment records looking specifically at veteran's preference, performance rating, service computation dates and tenure.
Together those areas determine an employee's retention standing. "You bear some responsibility as well," White told the audience. "It is incumbent on you to review your records to ensure that information is correct. If you find a discrepancy in your records or you find information that should be in there that's not, contact our office."

Those with higher retention standing during the first round of the RIF process may be placed in a vacant position or displace the employee with the lowest retention standing in that competitive level.

Employees who have been displaced will compete in a second round. "Round two of competition begins with all those employees who were released from their competitive levels and start to compete with other employees in different competitive levels," said White.

"This is where the competition broadens." This round determines who will be reassigned, down-graded or separated from the force. These employees will receive a RIF notice on June 21, which is 60 days before the effective RIF date.

The RIF process works by providing affected employees with RIF rights afforded them under the law, according to White. In the event of a downgrade, employees will be entitled to any available position they qualify for in their prior grade level for two years.
After that, the grade retention ends, and those employees will be entitled to indefinite pay retention. Those who have been released from their duties will be registered in the DOD's PPP and may be eligible for severance pay or unemployment compensation.

These employees will be offered personal counseling by the members of the Maxwell RIF team. At any time, employees can apply for positions within the DOD at usajobs.gov.

Edwards promised the Airmen that he will continue to notify them of information as soon as it becomes available so they can make well-informed decisions.

"At the end of every decision is an Airmen and I say Airman with a capital 'A' because it includes you," said Edwards. "We don't take this lightly; we spend hours figuring out how we are going to do this the right way. Because it's about the team and we're all on it."

For questions, email White and her team at 42fss.fsmcworkflow@us.af.mil or for further information about civilian employment, RIF and other personnel issues, visit the Air Force Personnel Service website at https://mypers.af.mil.

For assistance with resumes, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 953-2353.