ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - APG personnel gathered at several locations on APG North and South for updates on the possible furloughs expected to cut their pay by 20 percent over the next six months.

As Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, commander of APG and the Communications-Electronics Command, kicked off the town hall meeting at the post theater, large numbers of employees tuned in via video teleconference at Bldg. E2800 on APG South and APG North's C4ISR Meyer Auditorium.

The packed audiences were greeted by Ferrell's pledge of transparency and an acknowledgement that while the command doesn't have all the answers, "as we get information, we will share it."

Sequestration-- legislation tied to the 2011 debt ceiling crisis -- was signed into law March 1 after the United States Congress was unable to agree on a way to avoid it. Sequestration refers to the $1.2 trillion in automatic mandatory spending cuts that are intended to reduce the nation's deficit. The cuts take place over 10 years, starting this year with $85 billion and furloughs that will affect 800,000 DoD employees.

Ferrell introduced his CECOM deputy, Gary Martin, Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jerry Owens, and Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton, all of whom presented information and answered questions on how the furloughs would affect members of the APG community.

Martin gave a brief background on the sequestration, noting that of the federal government's $85 billion debt reduction plan for 2013, $46 billion would come from the Department of Defense.

"For the rest of the [fiscal] year, we're talking about one day a week, for 22 weeks, which will amount to 176 non-paid hours," said Martin of the furloughs expected to be set in motion at APG and throughout the DoD in late April.

"We're talking about 20 percent of your pay, and that's not insignificant," he said. "Everybody has a different level of ability to accommodate a 20 percent reduction in pay. Individual issues and challenges you're dealing with, we would certainly like to, to the extent we can, have managers be aware of where you're having trouble so we can help find ways to address the challenges."

Owens said the workforce is encouraged to participate in mini town halls and financial assistance sessions March 12-13.

Operation Comfort

On Tuesday, March 12, Operation Comfort will take place at the post theater on APG North (Aberdeen) from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the C4ISR Myer Auditorium. Operation Comfort is a venue similar to a town hall that offers "hope and encouragement to individuals during this time of unique challenge and opportunity," said Owens. Senior leaders, chaplains and financial advisors will offer practical advice, focusing on resources to "sustain us through this process as individuals and as a community."

Financial planning

Financial planning workshops, in preparation for the furloughs will be offered Wednesday, March 13, at 9 a.m. at the C4ISR Myer Auditorium, at 11 a.m. at the APG North (Aberdeen) main post chapel, and at 2 p.m. at the APG South (Edgewood) main post chapel. The workshops will help individuals plan a strategy to meet their financial challenges. Representatives from local financial institutions will lead workshops on personal budget strategies and common sense financial advice. Attendees can also coordinate for one-on-one financial counseling with the financial advisor of their choice.

For information on Operation Comfort and the financial planning events, call the main post chapel at 410-278-4333.

McClinton addressed installation services during the town hall and noted that child care and security forces would not be affected by the furlough.

As for rent rates in on-post housing, he said Picerne Military Housing is in talks with their corporate headquarters to find out what options are available for residents.

McClinton then opened the floor for questions, which were answered by garrison directors and Martin.

He also reminded the audience that as updates become available, the information will be distributed.

Community members can also check for updates at the following sites:

Office of Personnel Managegment website with Furlough information: www.opm.gov (Click on "F" under the "A-Z Index" then "Furlough")

DoD web page with latest sequestration information: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2013/0213_sequestration/

U.S. Army web page with FAQ and Sequestration Resources: http://armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2013/03/today-begins-the-sequester-here-are-some-answers-to-your-questions/

Aberdeen Proving Ground website: http://www.apg.army.mil/

Employee Assistance Program (provides confidential evaluation, counseling assistance, and referral services for DA civilian employees, retirees, and family members of active duty military and civilian employees): Bldg. 2477 / Phone 410-278-5319 / Email Robinstine.stokes.civ@mail.mil

Online Help with Job Stress:

http://www.defense.gov/specials/stressawareness03/job.html

Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund's Emergency Assistance Program (providing emergency loans to help employees who fall behind on basic living expenses due to unforeseen emergencies such as leave without pay, government pay error, death or illness in the family): www.feea.org/about-us/what-we-do

Page last updated Mon March 11th, 2013 at 11:20