WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 24, 2013) -- The furlough of civilian employees is "no way to treat a full partner in the business of the Army," said the commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, known as TRADOC.
"Certainly we're at a point in my workforce -- my 22,000 civilians at TRADOC -- [where] we're very seriously concerned about the long-term impact that this has had," said Gen. Robert W. Cone.
The general spoke during a lunch in honor of Army civilian employees, Oct. 23, during the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, in Washington, D.C.
Cone said he thinks it is "belittling" to civilian employees for them to be told they are "not essential" and that they must go home.
In the last six months, Army civilians faced two work stoppages. The first began in July with six weeks of four-day work weeks. Most recently, civilians faced more than two weeks of a government shutdown.
"It wasn't a real good thing for us on the military side," Cone said. "I can just tell you on the days that we have been without our civilians, productivity has essentially stopped."
On the home front, Cone said, the uncertainty and delay in pay associated with the furloughs created a " day-to-day, hand-to-mouth struggle" for some government civilians on the lower end of the "Government Schedule," or GS pay scale.
With the furloughs, pay freezes, cuts in training and reductions in force, Cone said he fears good Army civilians might seek employment elsewhere. The fiscal uncertainty could also drive away young Soldiers, he said.
Army leaders need to come up with a "vision for the future" to show that the Army will be leaner but focused, and have opportunities for training and advancement for civilians, Cone said.
As a way to retain the best employees and create a more adaptive work force, Cone said the Army must help its civilian employees chart career development and advancement paths. He also said that where possible, those civilian employees must be included in training opportunities within TRADOC.
Other important points in developing the best civilian workforce include talent management, stewardship of the profession, and recognizing that everyone has a responsibility for enforcing the standards of the profession.
Cone said that when he was a young officer in the Army, he didn't work much with civilians. By contrast, he said, today's uniformed personnel are used to working with a civilian counterpart.
"We need to capitalize on that in the leader development area and understand that commanders are not just military commanders," he said. "They have a responsibility to you (civilians) as a leader, as your representative, and your commander."
He also said the "next big idea" is leveraging the military leader development system for civilians.
"We see a lot of opportunities," he said.
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