By Ms. Kelly Ann Dewitt (AMC)February 25, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command spoke to Headquarters employees about budget concerns, the looming sequestration and potential furloughs during a Feb. 25 Town Hall meeting here.
Gen. Dennis L. Via addressed the workforce, telling audience members that he wanted to ensure he shared information on the budget uncertainty, its impact on the command, and its personal impact on the workforce.
"It is disconcerting professionally and personally, and I share those concerns with you," Via said. "As your commanding general, I can tell you we will continue to be transparent in the potential effects of sequestration. We will listen to your concerns, and we will do everything we can to sustain our warfighter, our AMC employees and Families," Via said.
Sequestration is a provision in budget law that will trigger major across-the-board spending cuts March 1 unless Congress agrees on an alternative.
Via noted the importance of taking prudent measures, and encouraged employees to prepare personally and professionally for the pending budget cuts.
AMC and other Army and Department of Defense organizations received guidance in early 2013 on the impacts of the potential sequestration, combined with the issues with the Continuing Resolution Authority. That guidance included a hiring freeze, the release of term employees, the release of temporary employees at the end of their current appointment, and the potential for a furlough of 22 non-continuous days.
"I realize what a significant burden (furloughs) will have on our employees' family finances -- we all have mortgages, rents, college students -- I know this is not insignificant in any way," Via told the workforce.
He also reassured the workforce that senior Army and DoD leaderscontinue to communicate with Congress on the serious repercussions to national security, the valued workforce, and the communities that surround AMC installations, depots and arsenals.
"While we hope (sequestration and the furloughs) will never be executed, it is absolutely prudent that everyone begins taking steps to mitigate the impact and to emerge resilient and 'Army strong,'" he said.
Representatives from the AMC G-1 and G-8 also spoke at the meeting.
Robert Turzak, the AMC G-8, reminded the audience that even in the most favorable scenario, AMC and the Army will face budget reductions, particularly as we move toward fiscal year 2014. He and a team of other experts have used a series of ROC (rehearsal of concept) drills internally and with the Department of the Army.
"This is providing us the opportunity to look at every TDY trip, every contract, every program as we try to find ways to reduce our costs," Turzak said. "We are working on priorities to support the deployers and the next deployers."
AMC's G-1, William P. Marriott, also spoke to the audience, explaining the steps and timelines affiliated with the furlough process, and how AMC leadership and the local union are working through those steps.
Soldiers are exempt from the furlough, according to Marriott, as are AMC civilians deployed in support of the Warfighter. No other AMC employees, including the most senior employees in the organization, are exempt from the potential 22 day, or 176 hour, furlough.
Marriott's team has established a portal link (accessible only to HQ AMC employees) with frequently asked questions about the potential furlough. The portal also includes all previously released documents from DoD and the Army on the looming issue.
He also encouraged AMC employees to read the Office of Personnel Management guidance on furloughs (http://www.opm.gov/faqs/topic/furlough/index.aspx). "It answers questions like 'Are my High-3 affected,' and 'Can I take leave during the furlough period,'" Marriott said. "The more information you have, the better understanding you will have, the better we can get through this."
Employees who read the FAQs, and who still have questions, are encouraged to ask through a link on the G-1 portal.
Via echoed Marriott's sentiments on the workforce educating itself on the potential challenges. "It is important to inform yourself. Take time to go on the site; read and research the information and see what is there," Via said. "My intent is to share with you what we know. My commitment is to be transparent with you as information comes out."
Despite the fiscal constraints, Via reminded AMC employees of the critical nature of the mission.
"AMC is involved in every fabric of the Army right now. We are significant to the readiness of the Army -- that's what we deliver every day. That's what we provide," he told the workforce. "We hope (sequestration and furloughs) won't occur, but we have to prudently plan in case it does."
"We will meet the mission first, and then take care of all of our employees to the best of our ability - that's what the leadership is committed to, and that's what I'm committed to."
"AMC will meet our mission critical requirements. We have to remember there are men and women deployed in harms' way," he added.