By Jim HinnantMarch 18, 2010
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (March 16, 2010) -- For the past two weeks, more than 700 U.S. Army Forces Command employees have been considering their options ahead of an April 1 deadline to decide if they want to move with their headquarters.
"Transfer of Function" notices were issued March 1, and spelled out to each employee the date their position is set to transfer to Fort Bragg, N.C., as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure-directed relocation of FORSCOM headquarters from Atlanta.
Early response rates have been encouraging, FORSCOM officials said, but added they 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. "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 Fort 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 Fort 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 Fort 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 employees wait 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's chief of 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."
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, according to Bennett. She added that in some cases, employees may be asked to stay 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," said Bennett.
Early decisions, planning
Making a firm relocation decision serves everyone, said Bennett. For those going to Fort Bragg, they should start their planning now, she said, and for those not moving, she said making early, informed choices 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 boxes last September," Bennett said. "We really hope everyone will put the information inside to use as they decide what they want to do."