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NEWS | April 24, 2020

Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman 502d Air Base Wing Commander

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.

Special Shout Out!

Anonymous: I would like to compliment Airman Graves and others on his shift. He’s one of the Security Forces troops who works a lot on the Valley High gate at JBSA-Lackland. This young man is always professional and has exceptional customer service skills. It’s a pleasure to see and interact briefly with outstanding Airmen like him and others doing an exceptional job each day guarding our military bases. Thank you for all you do!

Personnel Issues

Q. Why are plumbers the lowest paid trade throughout JBSA structures? The interior and exterior electric, power pro, and even vehicle maintainers are all WG-10s. It’s apparent that the locality pay is not a priority. Other bases seem to do better in terms of locality pay, which is why many are leaving the trade. Are there plans to fix this?

A. Thank you very much for your question. Our Wage-Grade workforce is essential to the success of all JBSA missions, and we are so appreciative of everything they do.

The Federal Wage System, or FWS, is a uniform pay-setting system that covers general appropriated fund employees who are paid by the hour. Under this uniform pay system, everyone’s pay is comparable to prevailing private sector rates in each local wage area.

A wage survey is conducted each year to ensure the current pay is comparable to that in the private sector. In addition, locality rates for Federal Wage System employees are embedded within the established hourly rate of pay.

Based on your concerns, I will work with our Civilian Personnel Office and Civil Engineers to verify the results of the wage survey and amount of locality pay to ensure our plumbers’ pay is comparable to the local area civilian sector as well as the local cost of living.

Q. Legal assistance appears to be another retirement benefit that was promised, but is now being denied.

I’m a retiree – a commissioned officer – from JBSA-Randolph and have been trying to get a will and power-of-attorney done at the JBSA-Randolph Legal office since early January 2020. However, after multiple attempts, I’ve found there is NEVER an appointment available. Why?

A. Thank you for sharing your concern. I sincerely apologize for the lack of available appointments since the beginning of the New Year.

The purpose of the legal assistance program is to support and sustain command effectiveness and readiness, and legal assistance services are subject to the availability of legal staff, resources, and expertise. Priority must be given to Air Force personnel in need of mobilization or deployment-related assistance.

Subject to these limitations, the JBSA-Randolph Legal Office makes available weekly estate planning appointments for retirees on Mondays and Wednesdays.

As you’ve experienced, appointments are in high demand, and typically booked a month in advance. However, all legal offices across JBSA provide estate planning services. If you are unable to make an appointment with the JBSA-Randolph office, the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston or JBSA-Lackland offices may have availability.

Please keep in mind that being in the middle of the ongoing public health emergency, all legal assistance services are currently limited to only active duty personnel.

Installation & Facilities

Q. I, like many others, use public transportation to get to work. I get off at the JBSA-Lackland Selfridge Gate, go through the gate and walk to building 5725). Now that both sides of Selfridge are closed, I find myself having to go to Luke Gate, then making my way back to the other side.

Would it be possible to open either one of the Selfridge Gates, for two hours in the morning (6-8 a.m.) and two hours in the afternoon (3-5 p.m.)? I am a disabled veteran and have a hard time walking for great distances.

A. Thank you very much for your question. The COVD-19 health emergency has been challenging on multiple fronts as we work to protect the JBSA community from unnecessary exposure risks.

Under HPCON Charlie conditions, we planned to close all non-24-hour gates, leaving the remaining four 24-hour gates at JBSA-Lackland open. However, based on the daily usage of the non-24 hour gates, balanced with the availability of Security Forces members that are not dedicated to working specific HPCON Charlies measures, we retained Security Hill and Growden Gate at their existing hours; however, we were not able to support keeping Selfridge open.

I sincerely apologize for your inconvenience and please know that re-opening gates will be one of my first considerations when the situation improves.

Q. When will JBSA-Fort Sam Houston receive a 24/7/365 Civil Engineering Customer Service Center to better serve its customers? This question has been raised several times for over a year. The Johnson Controls Metasys front-end is up and running and operational.

A. Thank you for your great question! Our Civil Engineer team is in the process of creating the positions needed to staff the 24/7 Energy Management Controls System, or EMCS, after-hours desk.

This new staff will be responsible for monitoring and controlling critical HVAC systems across JBSA-Fort Sam Houston with the secondary capability to handle after-hours emergency calls. CE expects it will take six months to tie all JBSA-Fort Sam Houston facilities into the new system. The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston EMCS system is expected to be operational by December 2020.  

Current after-hours emergency calls for JBSA-Fort Sam Houston are currently managed by the EMCS Desk at JBSA-Randolph.

Q. This concerns building 738’s men’s bathroom, nearest to the parking lot (simulator building). It is extremely small but sees high traffic flow, and it does not have any ventilation fans.

It is a Coronavirus and normal virus breeding area. The building manager has refused to install a ventilation fan because of the supposed cost/effort.

Please have a ventilation fan installed in this pandemic/epidemic timeframe—we have exhausted all efforts to make this change beforehand.

A. Thank you very much for bringing this issue forward. Our Civil Engineers have validated this deficiency and are working with the facility manager to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Miscellaneous

Q. I realize that we have an Air Force-mandated formal recognition program at JBSA and we have our quarterly and annual awards.

However, it appears that only a very small fraction of the entire JBSA workforce is ever recognized. This to me is very wrong and unjustified.

There are many reasons for this. One of them is that many supervisors are either too lazy, don’t care, don’t know how to write a good awards package, or too busy to nominate their people for awards.

Another reason is the strict and rigid grading criteria for these quarterly and annual awards. They then have to go through a panel of board members and the list goes on and on.

It is a pyramid effect where only a small few rise to the top in order to be officially recognized. How can that be a fair, caring, and realistic way to recognize people at JBSA, when only a few people win the top honors?

I would like to see JBSA institute an informal recognition program. That way more people at JBSA would get recognized, morale would improve, people would feel valued and appreciated, and there would be many other benefits associated with an informal recognition program.

Many companies have already successfully instituted informal recognition programs in their organizations across the U.S. and they have found that continual recognition influences everything and everyone in their individual companies!

Employees thrive in this type of environment, and organizations using this informal recognition strategy see a dramatic improvement in both morale and productivity.

A. Thank you so much for your question. I agree with you; we have an amazing team of professionals who deserve to be recognized for the outstanding work they do every day.

In addition, to quarterly and annual awards, there are several other programs available through which leadership can recognize their personnel for outstanding performance.

For example, there are numerous functional awards such as the American Legion Spirit of Service Awards, Excellence in Government Awards, Outstanding DOD Employee and Service Member with Disability Awards, Blacks in Government Awards, etc. These awards are open to many different categories of civilians and military personnel, and the list is by no means all-inclusive.

Please check the Task Management Tool operating system as there are many awards that become available on a monthly basis.  

Additionally, after I assumed command, Chief Lantagne and I created the Mission, Values, and People (MVP) Award. These three elements are the guiding principles that are the very foundation of our Wing. This program enables leadership to submit a super simple write-up about an individual or team that has impacted the 502d Air Base Wing’s mission, helped other people, or demonstrated the values we stand for as a Wing. There is a schedule associated with this program, and it rotates through each squadron giving every Commander the opportunity to submit deserving personnel.

Commanders can also recognize their personnel at the 502d ABW staff meeting that is conducted every Thursday. Historically, Commanders have simply submitted names of deserving personnel with a short narrative about their accomplishments to the 502d ABW Commander’s Action Group (CAG) so their personnel can be recognized at our staff meeting.

We also recognize our personnel at Commander’s Calls to the greatest extent possible. In addition, when the Chief and I do out-and-abouts, we recognize star performers with a Commander and/or Chief coin. 

These informal recognition programs allow informal recognition for our personnel, even if they are not nominated for a quarterly or annual Award. I will continue to emphasize the importance of formal and informal recognition with our leadership team.

Thank you very much for sharing your question in this forum which helps get the word out about the various informal recognition programs currently offered here at the 502d ABW.