By Robert Dozier, U.S. Army Installation Management CommandMay 23, 2013
NOTE: An earlier version of this article misidentified the body the employee can go to to respond to or challenge an adverse action (paragraph 10). The correct place is the Merit System Protection Board. -- The editor.
SAN ANTONIO (May 16, 2013) - - Senior leaders at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command headquarters addressed the issue of an 11-day furlough for civilian personnel at their town hall meeting in the Fort Sam Houston Theatre.
LTG Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander, and IMCOM CSM Earl Rice explained the effect of this action on employees throughout the installation management community and offered a look ahead as we close out this fiscal year and look to the next.
"The nation is in budget trouble and when the Budget Control Act and sequestration hit us, the Army knew they had to balance things like the size of the Army, and can we keep the world safe place," said Ferriter. "The Army is determined to fund readiness first because we don't want our Soldiers deploying without training."
IMCOM has a major role in readiness and resilience of the force and is sharing in budget sacrifices. Compared to fiscal 2012, the IMCOM budget has been reduced by 21percent.
"We're OK thanks to the great work of many, including those sitting in this room," said BG Curt Rauhut, IMCOM director of resource management (G8). "We will be able to meet our mission and still tell a compelling story to Department of the Army headquarters, particularly the long-term effect of a 55 percent reduction in sustainment, restoration and modernization."
"As a command, we are getting better at what we do and despite all that we face, we've been able to maintain without a reduction in force at headquarters," said Ferriter. "Everywhere we save money and bend on the way we are doing things, it helps us move forward."
The number of furlough days has been reduced from 22 down to 11 through the end of the fiscal year. Furloughs will save $1.8 billion from the overall military budget.
"With the memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, we are preparing for sending notices as soon as we can," said Karen Perkins, IMCOM director of human resources (G1). "We are going to begin training our supervisors so they will be able to address all your questions one-on-one."
Notices will likely be distributed between May 28 and June 3, to meet the required 30-day notice before furloughs begin. Notices will identify both the "reply" official, who will receive the employee's response, and the "deciding" official, who will respond to any employee protests to the furlough.
Technically, a furlough is an adverse action, because of its effect on the employee. "An adverse furlough action does not reflect poorly on an employee's conduct or performance," said Perkins. "It is the technical name of the furlough that impacts the employee adversely. Every employee has the right to respond or challenge any adverse action to the Merit System Protection Board." All nonappropriated fund employees are exempt from sequestration furloughs.
"Furlough is big business," said Ferriter. "It hurts you and we know it. It was a Defense Department all-in and we didn't get a vote, but we know whoever you are and whatever you do, every piece of paper we touch is a Soldier or Family action. HQ DA knows the adverse effect if we are not there.... What you do makes a difference."
"I love being on this team," said Rice. "Look at what this team has done. Just think how the number of furlough days have been reduced from 22 to 11, how we've put your message through to HQ DA and they are listening. Our Soldier's sacrifice is to give it all. Keep driving our cause because what you are doing makes a difference."
"Our position in the Army is very strong," said Ferriter. "We continue to evolve when we need to because people matter so we will continue to lead through these changes."
IMCOM has announced that headquarters will move to a four day work week during the furlough period; however, each garrison commander will make their own scheduling decisions locally.
Those garrisons under collective bargaining agreements have consulted directly with their union officials in preparation for furloughs. Employees who are members of a union are encouraged to consult with them for any updates and guidance.
After final furlough decision notices are sent, employees may appeal the agency's decision to the Merit System Protection Board within 30 days from the effective date of the furlough.
Decisions regarding the termination of temporary and term employees will be made at the local garrison.
LTG Ferriter and CSM Rice took the time to publically commend certain members of the IMCOM workforce for length of service and performance recognition.
For 25 years of service, the command commended Aurora Casraneda, Sonja Crawley and Nicholas Gonzales.
For 30 years of service, the command commended Robert D. Hummels, Michael Johnson, Stephen Kennedy, Anthony Riddick and Steve Walton.
For 35 years of service, the command commended Willie J. Ash, Ramon Martinez-Gonzalez, Ronald K. Heuer, Mark Hiuler, Richard Morizen and Cliberth Riley.
For 40 years of service, the command commended Richard Dey, Debra Hanson, Howson Lau, Jimmy Sawyer and Robert Wilson.
For 45 years of service, the command commended Robert M. Tennis which resulted in a grand applause from the audience.
There were three Commander's Awards for Civilian Service: for Robert Barnard, recognizing his exceptional service from 2011 to 2013 as a contracting officer developing the insourcing concept plan, Daniel Clark, recognizing his exceptional service from 2012 to 2013 as an infield staff operations specialist resourcing airfield operations, and Michael Shateck, recognizing his exceptional service from 2011 to 2013 as an alcohol substance abuse program specialist who helped establish Army and IMCOM manpower requirements in that field.
For more information on how sequestration and furloughs affect the IMCOM workforce, go to http://www.imcom.army.mil/Organization/G1Personnel.aspx.