Nichols outlines ACC's fiscal risk plan
February 14, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Members of the Army Contracting Command must do everything they can to minimize the effect of the nation's budget uncertainty on the war fighter, ACC's commanding general said Feb. 7.
Addressing a standing-room-only ACC Town Hall audience of more than 800 in the Bob Jones Auditorium here and a worldwide audience via video teleconferencing, Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols outlined steps the command is taking as the Army faces fiscal uncertainty in the fiscal year 2013 budget.
"I felt it was essential that we have this session as soon as we got some guidance from the Department of the Army and Army Materiel Command to assuage your fears about what's happening," she said. "There is a perfect storm going on affecting things that are absolutely outside of our control."
To underscore the topic's importance, Nichols quoted Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army Chief of Staff: "Today, the greatest threat to our national security is fiscal uncertainty. The situation is serious. If we do not have a legislative solution that provides our leaders with the time and the flexibility to shape our forces for the future, we will create a hollow force."
The Army must find ways to cut expenses by $12 billion, Nichols said, in order to cope with the current continuing resolution budget authority and possible sequester. She said the savings are needed to minimize risk for Soldiers in combat, emphasizing that the Army will not compromise on that effort.
"That dilemma falls to you and to me," she said, pointing out the increased burden the contracting workforce will have in helping the Army deal with this challenge.
Acknowledging the specter of a potential civilian workforce furlough, Nichols reiterated the Army position that a furlough is a tool of last resort and that it requires Secretary of the Army approval.
"It will crush us if we have to furlough anybody in the command--anybody," she said emphatically.
This is a time for the contracting community to "make lemonade," Nichols said, predicting that ACC's customers will be coming back to the negotiating table looking for ways to modify contracts. The general encouraged contracting officers to use this as an opportunity to re-engage their customers about the value of bringing their contracting officers into the acquisition strategy early. The Army has about $184 billion in contracts open right now, Nichols said.
ACC--like the rest of the Army--is under a civilian personnel hiring freeze. In the short term, the command will also release 17 non-contracting temporary employees and re-employed annuitants command-wide. Contracts for term employees will expire at the end of the current term and will not be extended.
As additional cost-savings measures, ACC has stopped the accrual of non-mission essential overtime and compensatory time. All ACC organizational purchases will be made by exception. All ACC-funded travel and training will be by exception and reviewed at the ACC headquarters.
Budget uncertainty guidance, including a link to the town hall video and slides, is available on the ACC SharePoint website at https://acc.aep.army.mil/BUG/Pages/BUG.aspx.