By Col. Deborah B. GraysFebruary 12, 2010
Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem
As many of you are painfully aware, our garrison budget has been drastically cut.
You may have noticed the trash in your office isn't being taken out as often as it had been, or that supply, travel and training funds have been curtailed.
You may be wondering how dire the budget situation is and what's being done about it.
For months, we've been looking at our resources and trying to determine, based on the expected budget shortfalls, the best way to continue to provide the services essential to our customers' needs while trimming our expenses.
Finding the means to stay within our funding limits requires time, commitment and an organized effort to ensure a balanced outcome. And the funding levels are fluid, therefore we find ourselves re-evaluating our efforts to match new guidance as we receive it.
Yet forefront in our minds, always, is our customers. Many of our services will remain relatively untouched.
Aca,!AcOur priority is to fund Soldier and Family readiness. No services that impact life, health and safety of customers will be affected to the point of unduly affecting those services.
Aca,!AcInstallation security measures will remain intact, although employees may notice longer lines entering the posts or waiting for ID cards to be issued.
Aca,!AcArmy Family Covenant (AFC) projects will remain a priority. While you may see some changes in the operating hours or the service levels in AFC projects, the commitment to make the covenant a continued reality remains.
Aca,!AcTraining and deployment support will not change, and youth services and child development programs will remain basically unchanged.
Aca,!AcPrograms mandated by law, such as environmental programs, will continue to be funded.
Other services most likely will be affected. For example, you may have already noticed a change in your custodial service.
Other areas potentially being reduced include grounds maintenance, continuing education and some facilities maintenance. The budget issue isn't local - it's being worked at "Big Army" as well as the Installation Management Command, the Installation Management Command-Southeast (IMCOM-SE) and in the garrisons.
Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. announced Feb. 5 that the Army is taking steps to increase funding by $500 million for Base Operating Support in fiscal year 2010.
"We will continue to look for efficiencies and best practices, but the bottom line is we will not shortchange our Soldiers and their Families," said McHugh.
Garrisons will receive a percentage of the increase. The specific amount has not been determined; however, the increase will not cover projected funding shortages and garrisons will continue to take cost-saving measures that will affect some services.
There are no actions currently planned in IMCOM-SE that would affect Civilian pay or result in any permanent employees losing their jobs by furlough or reduction in force actions, although those actions may present themselves in the future.
Contracts will be funded for as long as possible; however, some may be modified to change the scope of work to a lesser level based on available funding.
We're not just looking at where to cut money, we're also looking at how we can provide the services we do better and more efficiently, hoping to reduce the impact our changes will have on our customers.
In that regard, I ask each of you to look at the processes you use to accomplish your job, and to see if those tasks can be performed as effectively with less.
While the budget crunch is painful for all the garrisons in the Army, we may feel it more acutely than other posts in that we're working budget issues simultaneously with closure issues.
On the other hand, that may have given us a head start on facing these services issues - we had already been making plans to reduce many of our services as we grow closer to closure.
The budget constraints just mean we'll be reducing some of those services earlier than we had planned.
The bottom line is to expect changes. Some are already evident, others are still to come. Some will be painful, others few will notice.
I'll do my best to ensure the changes we make are thoroughly considered for customer impact, are fair and are made with mission in mind. Through them all, I'll do my best to ensure you remain informed of the changes to our services as they arise.