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Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman | 502d Air Base Wing Commander | Oct. 25, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

Feedback Fridays is a weekly forum that aims to connect the 502d Air Base Wing with members of the Joint Base San Antonio community. Questions are collected during commander’s calls, town hall meetings and throughout the week.

If you have a question or concern, please send an email to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

Personnel Issues

Q. Why is the process to hire civilians so long? We tend to lose people to outside jobs because it seems to be a good six months before they can start.

A. Thank you for your thoughtful question. The civilian hiring process consists of many steps involving multiple agencies to ensure compliance with law, policy and ultimately fair and equitable hiring practices.

The process begins with the hiring manager working with the local manpower and Civilian Personnel Office to fill an upcoming vacancy. The Request for Personnel Action travels through several different offices to ensure compliance measures are met, in order to bring top-quality candidates into the workforce using fair and equitable hiring practices.

Once the action reaches the Air Force Personnel Center, or AFPC, the action is sent to the appropriate office (i.e., Career Field Teams, Priority Placement Program). The announcements are then posted to the USA Jobs website where applicants can apply.

Once the announcement closes, qualified and eligible applicants are referred via certificate to the hiring manager. The hiring manager then conducts interviews, if applicable, and makes a selection which is submitted back to AFPC. In turn, AFPC sends a tentative job offer to the applicant.

Each position is unique in that some require certain pre-employment conditions such as security clearances, drug testing, and/or physical examinations. Only after all conditions of employment are met will AFPC send a firm job offer.

There may also be extenuating circumstances that could prevent the selectee from coming on board in a timely manner. These include but are not limited to suitability concerns and/or the selectee traveling from out of state without PCS authorization.

Civilian Personnel Services has made internal adjustments to streamline the process such as collecting bi-weekly data to review the timeliness of each process of the pre-employment requirements and advising management of pre-employment waivers to speed up the process.

As with every process we are always looking to fine-tune as we move forward. Your feedback and teamwork helps us to achieve an outstanding program and so we thank you for the active engagement and understanding.

Q. I would like to know why some think it is okay to take away Department of the Air Force civilian police overtime at JBSA-Lackland with only two days notice.

A. Thank you for your question. While we understand your concerns (in particular about the short notice), we would like to highlight that it is ultimately management’s obligation to be good stewards of their organization and taxpayer money. If they determine the mission does not require overtime, then they have an obligation to ensure employees are returned to normal duty.

I recommend that if you have concerns about overtime, you speak with your leadership and get their justification for these short-notice cancellations. I do appreciate the feedback, and encourage all supervisors and leadership teams to continue to keep the well-being of their personnel in mind when making decisions and enacting policies within their organizations.

Q. I have a question regarding current and near future retirement benefits for those who retired from active duty military service after June 2011.

I have heard a few rumors and hearsay about this and I would rather get an official word: 1) regardless of when someone retires, they will not collect retirement pay until they are 65 years old, 2) retirees will not receive ANY retirement pay, except what is earned with their TSP.

A. Thank you for helping us clarify retirement benefit rumors. To clarify the rumors, Airmen who have already retired are not affected by the change in the Department of Defense retirement system while those who entered uniformed service prior to Jan. 1, 2018 are grandfathered under the current retirement system.

The Blended Retirement System (BRS) became effective Jan. 1, 2018, and blends the current 20-year cliff-vested defined benefit annuity with a defined contribution plan that combines Government and service member contributions in a portable Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account.

Modernizing the current retirement system into the BRS not only ensures that the vast majority of all uniformed members receive a portable retirement benefit, but it will also help make uniformed service a more attractive option for those who would like to serve but do not plan to make the Air Force a career.

The BRS is comprised of a TSP with matching funds and a retirement annuity for completing twenty or more years of eligible service. Airmen with a Date Initially Entered Uniformed Service, or DIEUS of Jan. 1, 2018, and later are automatically enrolled in the new retirement system.

Airmen with a DIEUS prior to Jan. 1, 2018, are grandfathered under their current retirement system; however, service members with less than 12 years of service, or less than 4,320 points for the Air Reserve Component (ARC), as of Dec. 31, 2017, had the option to elect the BRS, if they desired. The opt-in window for these individuals closed Dec. 31, 2018; however, certain Airmen may request an extension of the opt-in window if they are experiencing hardship situations.

To check your retirement, you can go into your Leave and Earning Statement and view all of the details; if you are in the BRS system, you can also change your contributions to your TSP accordingly.

Q. I live near JBSA-Lackland and frequently go on base to shop or eat. The majority of time the military or civilian personnel on duty at the gate have a friendly, welcoming attitude. Some even acknowledge courteous comments.

However, there are a few who do not respond to a greeting, or they give the impression that life is cruel. A few times it seemed the attitude was “I don’t need your comments.” I think some personnel entering the base could be more “human” or smile. Some of us appreciate the effort, and some may need a warm smile to make their day.

A. Thank you for your comment! I am thrilled to hear the majority of the time you experience a welcoming attitude from our Security Forces professionals who protect and defend JBSA.

It is unfortunate that you’ve experienced less than that welcoming attitude on a few occasions. Rest assured, my team and I strive to deliver the best customer service each and every day to those who live and work on JBSA.

I do want to say thank you for engaging with our Defenders in a positive way. We also have to keep in mind, everyone has bad days and you never know what someone is going through; they might not feel like smiling all the time, and that’s ok too.

Installation & Facilities

Q. In regards to the streetlight issue from a previous Q&A (9/13/2019), I have a recommendation regarding a previous Q&A about street lights … solar-powered lights!

I have provided a link to an example: https://www.solarlightingitl.com/all-in-one-led-solar-street-lighting-systems/. It would fix the safety issue as well as conserve electricity in an already over-used area.

I know we are at the end of the fiscal year and funding is thin, but this would save money in the long run and the lights are LED so would last longer as well. The final perk is that they do not require new poles; they would attach to the pre-existing poles down Stanley Road at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, as well as free up the circuit in building 2263.

A. Thank you for your question, and for your concern for the safety of our personnel. The 502d Civil Engineer Group’s Energy & Utilities team is continually looking for opportunities to save energy at JBSA.

We have explored solar street lights and the economic viability of converting them to renewable technology. Unfortunately, we still have not been able to make an economic business case to justify the savings to investment. Another issue we are faced with is the street lights are owned by a privatized contractor, CPS Energy, and making investments in non-government assets can be challenging.

As solar technology becomes more cost effective, we are confident that one day we will be able to make a business case to upgrade the roadway lighting system. We will also explore partnership opportunities with government and non-governmental entities for opportunities as technology changes and is not as expensive.

Q. Good afternoon. I use the Medina Fitness Center quite often and I wanted to bring this to your attention.

I noticed over a month now of driving past the gate on the right side (near where the motorcycle safety training is conducted and where all the unused flag pole are), the grass has grown 1 to 2 feet tall. For the grass to have grown this tall, you can assume it has not been cut in a while because there is “brown grass” near this area where the contractor cut recently.

It is unsightly and not a good first impression when entering the base, as I am sure you would agree.

Do you know why the contractor is not cutting this area? Isn’t there a QAE (Quality Assurance Evaluator) assigned to make sure the work is currently done?

A. Thank you for your keen observation and question. Based on the description you provided, we believe you are referring the area on the JBSA-Lackland Training Annex, just off the motorcycle training pad area to the right as you enter the gate from Medina Base Road.

Our Grounds Maintenance Contract has this area identified as an “Improved Grounds” standard, which requires grass to be maintained between 2-4 inches. CEG recently inspected this area and noted that the circular area was mowed with the exception of an area in the middle, which happens to be sunken in and is therefore is considered unsafe for the large batwing mower to drive over.

The contractor is required to weed eat the high grass down in that area as much as safely possible, and CEG has engaged with the contractor to ensure this is being addressed. Thank you again for your feedback!

Q. The Stanley Road running track at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is in deplorable condition! This is the premier running track at Ft. Sam for all physical fitness training and activities. It is used by uniformed and civilian personnel.

There is grass growing on the track, and in some areas, complete encroachment of the outer track, narrowing the usable running surface. The track surface is also uneven.

Some weeks ago, a reader commented on a sinkhole in the track marked only with an orange cone. While the cone was removed and the hole patched somewhat, no other improvements have been made to this track.

With the amount of people who use this track every day, it needs to be better maintained. The grass should be trimmed and removed from the track surface immediately. The surface should be level and smooth with well demarcated lanes. 

A. We apologize for the condition of the track. JBSA has many running tracks and our Civil Engineers are developing a contract to provide reoccurring maintenance. CEG is currently developing its investment plan for this year and this track was identified as one of the many investments needed and are optimistic it will be funded given the safety, quality of life, and readiness considerations.

In the meantime, CE has already made some minor repairs and will continue to monitor and address issues until the contract effort is in place and funded. Thanks for your feedback!

Miscellaneous

Q. The Civil Engineering Group restructure is not well known outside of their group. Some individual contacts within the organization are still usable, but trying to determine which office provides which function and contacting them for needed services or functional requirements remains a mystery.

Is there a planned update of the organization diagram, office symbols, organizational contacts and other general information planned for 502d CEG public sites, AF Portal, SharePoint, the GAL, and the Wing Customer Service Guide?

A. Thank you for your question! We realize that the reorganization that occurred late last year has created some confusion.

Recently there have been some leadership positions added and the 502d CEG is still making a few changes to their organizational structure. As soon as that is finalized, they plan on pushing out their new organizational chart with identified leaders to base mission partners and through our 502d Air Base Wing Public Affairs office.

Throughout the entire reorganization process, the numbers for CE Customer Service have remain unchanged, and all base personnel are encouraged to first work any infrastructure issues or requests through their unit’s assigned facilities managers, who are all well-trained in the service request processes.

Q. My question is about the JBSA base cable in the government and MWR buildings. Is there an AFI or DoDI that says Fox News (only) has to air on the monitors and/or TVs in those buildings, in the JBSA area?

A. Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. There is no AFI or DoDI to guide what programming is shown at different facilities across JBSA.

However, as a general rule of thumb, our staff does its best to show family friendly and appropriate shows while rotating through various channels to provide our customers with some variety in entertainment.

In facilities with multiple sets, an attempt is made to keep one TV on a sports channel and the other on one of the many news channels available. In areas such as the dining facilities, the staff allows customers to request the remote/change the channel according to their preference.

If a customer finds a certain show or channel offensive or inappropriate, it can be changed upon request. If you see something, say something! If there is a program showing on our TVs that you deem as inappropriate or not aligned with our Wing and Air Force core values, please let the facility staff know and they will do their best to provide more family-friendly and appropriate channels. Thank you for your feedback!