By Jim Hinnant, U.S. Army Forces Command Public AffairsMarch 17, 2010
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (March 16, 2010) - For the past two weeks, more than 700 U.S. Army Forces Command headquarters Army civilian employees have been considering their options ahead of an April 1st deadline to respond to their individual Transfer of Function Notices.
The Transfer of Function notices were issued March 1st and spell out to each employee the date their position is set to transfer to Ft. Bragg, N.C. as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure-directed relocation of FORSCOM headquarters.
Early response rates have been encouraging, but are not a conclusive indicator of how many of the command's highly qualified and experienced Army civilian staff will make the ultimate move north.
"We have received more than 300 responses as of today, with the vast majority accepting the transfer," said Ronna Garrett, FORSCOM's Director of Human Resources Director. "Receiving so many early acceptances is encouraging, but with several hundred to go, we know the final acceptance rate may be different."
Transfer of Function acceptance rates typically have been in the 25-30-percent range in other Department of Defense organizations that have relocated during this, and other, BRAC efforts, Garrett said.
Published guidance from Gen. Charles C. Campbell, FORSCOM's commanding general includes, among other imperatives, the need to "retain and recruit a capable, high-performing, results-oriented and diverse workforce."
In today's challenging economic environment the ability to meet this imperative might seem fairly simple, Garrett said. But, the makeup of the command's civilian workforce makes transferring to Ft. Bragg a tough decision for many.
"The average FORSCOM headquarters employee's age, family status and number of years they have lived in the Atlanta area make opting to pull up stakes and move a very difficult decision," She said. "A number of our folks have lived here for years, and are either retirement eligible or are nearly so."
To encourage employees to stick with the command through the relocation, the Army offers a comprehensive set of entitlements and benefits, she said. Some of these include a substantial relocation incentive, assistance with the sale of their current home, and many travel entitlements to offset the cost of moving a family to the new assignment.
"We want every member of our highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce to make the move to Ft. Bragg," Garrett said. "We realize that isn't possible, so we would like those who aren't going to be proactive and upfront with their managers as the transfer of function process continues."
Much talk among human resource strategic planners for the relocation centers around employees who may initially accept the transfer to Ft. Bragg, but subsequently change their mind and decide not to move.
These "false positives" may cause more personnel turbulence and stress on the system, especially if an employee waits until the last minute before making their final intentions known.
"We know that a number of our people may hesitate when it comes to telling their managers their actual intentions," said Diane Bennett, FORSCOM, Chief, Civilian Personnel. "Some employees are concerned that they would be forced to leave earlier than their position is scheduled for transfer to Bragg if they decline the transfer early on. This is simply not true."
According to Bennett, all employees will be afforded the opportunity to stay with the Command until such time as their position is scheduled to transfer to Fort Bragg, and in some cases, may be asked to stay on beyond that date for overlap and training the replacement team.
"The dates specified in the transfer of function notice are firm and no one should fear that they would somehow be pushed out of their job early or denied some other benefit because they don't want to move," says Bennett.
Early decisions, planning
Making a firm relocation decision serves everyone, said Bennett. "If a person is going to move to Ft. Bragg, they should start their planning now, and if a person isn't going to move - making an early, informed choice enables them to access all the transition support that's out there - like Department of the Army-sponsored outplacement services, the Priority Placement Program and the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program."
Resources, support available
Bennett strongly encourages employees to use all available resources in making their BRAC decision.
"All our employees received Relocation, Entitlements, Decision-making (RED) boxes last September," Bennett said. "We really hope everyone will put the information inside to use as they decide what they want to do."
According to Bennett, an open and frank dialogue between the employee and manager will go a long way in helping the command - and the individual employee, through the transition period.
Garrett says she is confident FORSCOM employees will weigh their options and make deliberate, informed decisions.
"We certainly understand that some folks will have real life issues that might force them to change their plans and ultimately decline the move," she said. "What we really hope is that our great people will be upfront and give us the notice and time we need to ensure we maintain FORSCOM's mission capability during this time of war for our nation, and transition for our headquarters."
Editor's Note: U.S. Army Forces Command, with more than 800,000 Soldiers, is the largest Army Command, and provides expeditionary, campaign-capable land forces to Combatant Commanders.