ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Depot Commander Col. Brent Bolander spoke to the workforce Dec. 11 in a town hall meeting before an audience in the Training Office and broadcast live on the installation's LAN channel.
"Thanks again for the last year's efforts," said Bolander. "There was a lot of turmoil, a lot of uncertainty and, mixed in with that a bit of furlough and a bit of sacrifice on folks' part."
Bolander asked the audience to maintain a good attitude and remember the reason the depot is here.
"What we do is in support of our warfighters. The folks who are out there, each and every day, using that piece of equipment your hands have touched and expecting it to work every time," said Bolander.
He said that, personally, he took the equipment for granted before he came to Anniston. But, since seeing the operations which ensure each weapon, tank and piece of artillery are repaired or rebuilt properly, he said he no longer takes the job of the depots for granted. "And I won't when I leave here."
Fiscal Year 2014
"I wish I could say there was a little more certainty, but there is not. There is still uncertainty out there," said Bolander. "But, here is what I do know. Our workload is declining and it probably will continue to decline."
However, Bolander added that the depot has more workload in FY14 than it did in FY13.
"If you look at the number of hours, we actually have more hours this year than we did last year. Part of that is because of the movement, the pushing of workload from last year to this year," said Bolander.
During FY13, due to a declining workforce and the furlough, the depot transferred some of its workload to FY14.
To assist with this effort, the installation recently began recruitment for 294 temporary employees. However, Bolander cautioned the workforce that FY15 and FY16 workloads are still down.
"It doesn't look as good the year after that or the year after that," he said. "Our Army is reducing and when our Army reduces it means less work."
Bolander told the workforce at the March town hall that paperwork for a potential reduction in force in FY14 was being submitted. He said that paperwork has since been withdrawn and there is no need for a RIF in FY14. However, the future is less bright.
"It is more than likely we will submit another reduction in force packet for FY15, based on workload," said Bolander "Part of that is an administrative requirement."
He said he didn't know if the reduction in force would be implemented, but, he called it a tool of last resort.
"Will VERA/VSIP be out there? It's a possibility. We are going to use all the human resources tools in the toolkit to address our challenges and identify ways to work through them," he said, mentioning the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Program.
Bolander asked employees to curtail the rumor mill as much as possible, adding that he will relay information through his channels -- management, TRACKS and The Morning Show -- as information is available.
"If you don't hear it from me or the command, stand by. I will tell you everything I know when I know it," said Bolander, adding that he will always relay the facts he has to the workforce.
Bolander encouraged the workforce to take advantage of the programs provided by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Division, such as the upcoming Choose to Lose program for weight loss.
"That one person who takes a stab at that competition may add a few years to their life and feel better about themselves," said Bolander.
The second Wounded Warrior Hunt is also coming up in January.
"I think this program will continue to grow," said Bolander. "I think it is a good opportunity for the depot to recognize those wounded warriors and provide them with an opportunity they may not have."
The Wounded Warrior Hunt has also prompted the installation to review its policies regarding hunting, particularly in the realms of hunting areas and weapons that can be used.
"We have look at it to make sure it makes sense and do it right," said Bolander.
The eradication of sexual harassment and assault has become a top priority for the Army. Bolander told the workforce that the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program means the Army has drawn a definite line when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.
"Even the hint of harassment and certainly assault is a direct report requirement from me to my two-star and from him to the four-star," said Bolander.
Bolander said he was serious about prevention of sexual harassment and assault before the recent Army mandates.
At this time of year, Bolander also asked employees to keep an eye on their coworkers for signs they are having difficulty.
"It takes courage to step up and say you need some help and it takes courage for the workforce to turn to their partner and say I see you are having some challenges," said Bolander. "I just ask you to have a little more situational awareness and help people out this time of year."
Hiring and Promotional Processes
The procedures for hiring and promotions are governed by the Office of Personnel Management's regulations.
Because the hiring process is open to anyone qualified to apply for a federal position, some of the temporary employees being hired will be former employees who were released from their temporary assignments last year and some will be new employees who have never worked at the installation before.
Promotions are also given based upon merit and following OPM's guidance.
Fraud and Abuse
One submitted question to the town hall alleged fraud and abuse in the workplace. Bolander asked the workforce to gather facts and let the leadership know, through the chain of command when something inappropriate occurs.
"Show me," said Bolander. "If you see me, flag me down. If someone is performing fraud, waste or abuse, I'm with you. I'm in your corner. But, I am not just going to take a statement. You have to come to me with something I can dig into."
Improve for the future
Bolander told the audience he hopes to see the workforce and the installation improve over the next several years. Improvements in processes, procedures, safety and throughout the installation can be beneficial in attracting additional workload and potentially keeping the depot off future Base Realignment and Closure lists.
"There is a lot of rhetoric out there on BRAC," said Bolander. "Will there be one or not? Your guess is as good as mine. The real question is how are we postured? And that is up to you all."
He said the depot is postured well from an infrastructure perspective, but quality, safety and other factors weigh into the decision as well.