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NEWS | Nov. 10, 2011

AF announces civilian workforce restructuring

By Lt. Col. Cynthia Anderson Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Air Force officials announced several adjustments to the civilian workforce Nov 2.

In response to direction from the Secretary of Defense for the Department of Defense to stop civilian growth above fiscal year 2010 levels and the need to add 5,900 positions against the Air Force's top priorities, the Air Force eliminated approximately 9,000 positions.

Within Joint Base San Antonio, there will be a loss of 1,058 positions in certain specialties, but a gain of 944 positions in other areas. The net effect within Joint Base San Antonio is a loss of 114 civilian positions.

Many of the cuts, 800 of them, will come from organizations directly supported by the 502nd Air Base Wing civilian personnel offices.

Some of the positions designated for elimination are currently vacant, thereby reducing the impact on the work force.

"We will have full open and transparent communication with folks in the wing," said Brig. Gen. Theresa C. Carter, 502nd Air Base Wing commander.

The general and other wing leadership have held a series of town halls to address the civilian restructuring process to the workforce.

These adjustments reflect several initiatives designed to align limited resources based on Air Forces priorities. This process is an ongoing effort to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead and eliminate redundancy.

"We can't be successful without our talented and experienced civilian workforce," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley. "We are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the force and will continue to look for new ways of accomplishing the mission. We can't afford business as usual."

Upon receiving the Secretary of Defense's 2010 memo directing that civilian manpower costs stay within fiscal year 2010 levels, the Air Force began a comprehensive strategic review of the entire Air Force civilian workforce to determine whether or not civilian authorizations were in the right places to meet mission priorities.

The strategic review revealed several imbalances. Some high priority areas needed to grow, while some management and overhead functions needed streamlining. These imbalances led to a variety of initiatives focused on realigning scarce manpower resources with the most critical missions.

The Air Force will grow by approximately 5,900 positions in acquisition, the nuclear enterprise, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and other key areas while reducing approximately 9,000 positions in management, staff, and support areas.

In addition, beginning in May 2011, the Air Force implemented hiring controls, a 90-day hiring freeze and voluntary early retirement and separation programs to further mitigate the impact on the work force.

The Air Force will continue to pursue all available voluntary force management efforts with the goal of avoiding non-voluntary actions.

"We clearly understand the turbulence these and future reductions will cause in the workforce," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. "We are making every effort to use voluntary measures to achieve reductions whenever possible."

Beginning in May 2011, the Air Force implemented a series of hiring controls and voluntary separation programs designed to reduce overall manpower costs, but these hiring controls did not provide the results required to operate within our fiscal constraints.

"The initiatives announced Nov. 2 represent the next step toward that goal, but there is more work to be done," said Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, Manpower, Organization, and
Resources director.

"The Air Force remains over fiscal year 2010 manpower levels and will continue to develop enterprise-wide solutions to achieve our goals with minimal impact to mission," Grosso said. "The Air Force must still define an additional 4,500 civilian positions for reduction."

As details become final, Air Force officials will release information on the next set of initiatives.

Air Force-wide, local leaders will be sharing the results of the civilian manpower adjustments with their workforces over the next several days.

"Civilian manpower adjustments will occur at all levels of the Air Force," Grosso said.

"We are focused on shaping the force within our fiscal constraints and are committed to maintaining our long history of excellence as we build the Air Force of the future.

"At this time, we are not sure whether a reduction in force will be necessary," the general said. "We are pursuing all available voluntary force management measures to include civilian hiring controls with the goal of avoiding non-voluntary measures. Every vacancy we don't fill brings us one position closer to fiscal year 2010 levels, and reduces the possibility for a (Reduction in Force)."

Given the constrained fiscal environment, Air Force members should expect continued workforce shaping measures affecting military, civilian, and contractors, Grosso noted.

"We understand the stress caused by uncertainty and will do our best to share information across the workforce as soon as it becomes available," Grosso said.