Faulkner on Army Civilian cuts: Go with the facts
December 15, 2011
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. --The Army and Fort Huachuca are moving forward with plans to reduce the size of its Civilian employee workforce.
In July, the Army announced a planned reduction of approximately 8,700 positions Army-wide by Sept. 30, 2012.
These cuts are based on Department of Defense resource decisions as reflected in the Fiscal Year 2012 President's Budget, and require a reduction of Department of the Army Civilians to comply with decreased funding levels.
The Army has identified 70 different locations affected by these reductions across eight commands and agencies with nearly 90 percent of the cuts taking place within Installation Management Command, Army Materiel Command, and Training and Doctrine Command, including Fort Huachuca.
Thirty seven states will be affected by these reductions with the majority of personnel cuts occurring in those states with the largest military and Army Civilian populations.
Fort Huachuca's target reduction for Fiscal Year 2012 is 52 positions or 1.7% of the total Civilian employees employed locally by IMCOM, AMC and TRADOC combined.
Brig. Gen. Gregg Potter, commanding general, USAICoE and Fort Huachuca, and Col. Timothy Faulkner, garrison commander, held a town hall meeting at Murr Community Center Monday to explain exactly what this means for the Fort, to ensure the community has the most current and accurate information and to reduce anxiety.
"... We don't want to raise the anxiety level for no reason," Potter said. "The rumor mill is something that can destroy cohesion and raise anxiety. We'll tell you what we know, when we know it."
"We have not had to involuntarily separate anyone," Potter said, repeating his statement to drive the point home.
"[USAICoE] has [not] and will not extend temp and term employees at the end of their temp and term, but those people knew about that going in," he added. "They knew they were hired for a specific period of time and signed a statement [acknowledging] that at the beginning of their time."
The Army's Dec. 8 announcement of the specific installation reduction targets described how the end numbers would be reached.
"Army commands and agencies are continuing to take necessary actions to reduce their Civilian on-board strength to meet funded targets established by the Secretary of Defense and reflected in the President's Budget, said Thomas R. Lamont, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower & Reserve Affairs. "To the maximum extent possible, the Army will rely on voluntary departures to achieve these manpower reductions."
Fort Huachuca understands the impact of these reductions and will rely on all constructive and voluntary measures to ease the burden on employees.
Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment may be used to reduce the number of personnel to meet mission objectives.
Employees in an authorized position can apply for VERA/VSIP, but there is no guarantee that it will be approved. Vacating an authorized position will require that position to be either restructured or abolished, so the VERA/VSIP application is subject to command approval.
Other non-voluntary reshaping tools short of Reduction in Force may include release of temporary employees, separation of highly qualified experts, separation of re-employed annuitants, management-directed reassignments and furloughs. If these measures do not achieve the required Civilian personnel levels, then a RIF may be considered. Currently, only the Secretary of the Army has the authority to approve a RIF within the Army.
"That decision will be made by the Secretary of the Army," Potter said. "I am not authorized to use the 'R' word -- reduction in force. No one here is being involuntarily separated."
Fort Huachuca will continue to manage the talent within its workforce in a way that best supports the Army's mission here.
"We're talking about slots, not necessarily people. If you think that 100 slots means 100 people, then that's the wrong impression," said Jerry Proctor, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence.
"There are 260 positions that we are trying to hire against. There is a decision in each command where maybe [they] don't need to hire that vacant slot, so that doesn't correlate directly with  people who have to walk out the door. The commands are doing all they can to work this as a Fort Huachuca team," Proctor said. "We are working to eliminate the possibility or reduce as much as possible, someone's chance of losing their job."
Currently, there are vacancies around the installation. Each command is tasked with identifying nonessential positions, whether filled or vacant. Eliminating vacant nonessential positions saves money and may prevent some filled positions from being eliminated.
Fort Huachuca has only identified between 35 and 39 positions for elimination on the installation, said Thomas O'Brien, director of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.
CPAC is looking at current employees' resumes for skills that are needed in those mission-critical vacancies. It is important that employees maintain a current resume in Resumix so CPAC can place employees with appropriate skills into vacant authorized positions, even if a vacant position is in a different series than their current position. If they possess the necessary skills required for the position, they can transfer to that position.
"Before we go into staffing and advertising a position, we will attempt to place our people first," O'Brien said. "You can work through your servicing specialist here. We know there are four positions in FORSCOM. Now it's time to find jobs for you and your colleagues."
Potter and Faulkner are committed to keeping the community adequately informed to avoid the spread of misinformation.
"We will continue having town halls and doing whatever we can to keep rumors down," Faulkner said. "We will put out the facts, and only the facts. People will make assumptions, and we need you to help squash the rumors. Go with the facts."