Guidance for the Fort Benning Community on the Army’s Civilian Workforce Reduction

Colonel Jeffrey Fletcher
Garrison Commander

To our Fort Benning community:

In order to meet reductions to the federal budget, the Army is moving forward with its plan to reduce the size of its civilian employee workforce at more than 70 locations by about 8,700 positions during before Sept. 30, 2012. Fort Benning is one of the installations affected by this reduction, with our share of the total being 250 positions.

Fortunately, the impact locally will seem far less severe, because we’ve worked hard to restructure our workforce, rather than simply to reduce it. Our restructuring allows some functions to grow, requiring more workers, while simultaneously other functions will decline, requiring fewer workers. Fiscal reality means we will make tough choices across the installation as we determine how best to continue to provide world-class training for our Soldiers during this austere fiscal time for our country. Unfortunately, we will necessarily lose some civilian positions across the installation, but it is our intent that few if any permanent civilian employees here today will involuntarily lose their employment.

In order to mitigate the effects of this Army-wide FY12 reduction of our workforce, we have aggressively sought ways to reach the goal that was set for us. To date, we have been very successful in finding alternate employment for permanent employees whose positions were eliminated. As we move through FY12, we believe our efforts will continue to be successful. There are numerous resources available to employees affected by this workforce reduction. We encourage you to speak with your supervisor to learn more, and please return to the website for updates throughout FY12.

As we work through this process together, we ask you watch out for rumors. As you see and hear information in the news, before you respond or share it with your co-workers, please check first with your supervisor or come to the website for the official word.

We remain hopeful we can reduce the required number of positions without forcing any involuntary separation of our valued civilian employees at Fort Benning.

One Force, One Fight.

Why did the Army decide to reduce its civilian workforce and what has happened to date?

The Army needed to reduce its civilian on-board strength to meet funded targets established by the Secretary of Defense in Resource Management Directive (RMD) 703A2, as reflected in the FY 2012 federal budget. RMD 703A2 withdrew approximately $834 million in OMA funding. Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) Staff and all Army commands and agencies have conducted exhaustive reviews of programs and functions in order to identify specific functions, activities and workload for elimination and/or reduction.

TIMELINE:
February 2, 2011 - The Secretary of the Army suspended employment offers for OMA-funded positions, except positions related to medical, law enforcement, safety, health, welfare and contingency operations; other exceptions were approved at the HQDA level.

April 29, 2011 - The suspension was lifted and Commands and Agencies were directed to manage Civilian and contractor workload within the targeted fiscal constraints and staffing levels. July 11, 2011 – The Secretary of the Army issued implementation guidance to Army Commands informing them of their funded Civilian authorization levels.

August 3, 2011 – An implementation order was issued for commands and agencies to begin taking immediate action to reduce Civilian on-board strength to meet funded targets established in RMD 703A2 as rapidly as possible, but no later than the end of FY 2012.

December 08, 2011 – The Department of Army announced it is moving forward with plans to reduce the size of its civilian employee workforce by more than 8,700 direct hire civilian authorizations.

Top 20 Questions & Answers

Why is the Army doing this?

We are in a very challenging fiscal environment. Department of Defense resource decisions, as reflected in the Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget, reduced funding for civilian personnel and required the Army to reduce its on-board strength. The Army understands the impact of its decisions on our workforce and will provide assistance to affected employees to ease their transition.

How many Army commands are affected by these reductions?

Approximately eight Army commands and agencies will be affected in more than 70 locations.

How many Army-wide positions will be affected by these reductions?

The Army has identified approximately 8,741 positions for elimination.

How many positions at Fort Benning will be affected by these reductions?

The Army report cites 247 positions will be affected at Fort Benning, however, this number is from a study done this summer. Where numbers may be more in some areas, they may be less in others. Roughly 250 positions will be cut across the installation.

How many people at Fort Benning will be affected by these reductions?

Because of the restructuring efforts we have been engaged in over the last five months, we are reasonably confident that very few permanent employees will be adversely affected as a result of the restructuring at Fort Benning. We will not know the exact number until we have completed all mitigation efforts.

What will be the Army’s estimated savings because of these reductions?

The civilian reductions will result in estimated savings of approximately $834 Million.

What will be the estimated savings for Fort Benning based on these reductions?

Because IMCOM will be growing, we will not realize any cost savings there. However, the reduction of 117 civilian positions from MCoE (TRADOC) decreased our payroll by approximately $7.6 million. This is a savings to the Army - we did not receive these funds in our budget. It was decreased for the payroll savings.

There have been budget talks for months, what has Fort Benning done to prepare for these reductions?

Fort Benning has been actively engaged in a force reshaping and restructuring process since July 2011. We have instituted selective hiring freezes, released or planned to release temporary and most term employees upon the expiration of their terms. Additionally, eligible employees may be offered VERA/VSIP when in the best interest of the mission. In many cases, those permanent employees who would be adversely affected by the Army’s decision to reduce the civilian workforce have been placed in other positions that are available and match the individual’s skill set. Our intent is that no permanent Fort Benning employee be involuntarily separated from his or her job,

When do the reductions have to be completed?

These reductions will be accomplished as rapidly as possible, but no later than Sept. 30, 2012 and in compliance with regulations governing employee notice periods and entitlements.

When will Fort Benning civilian employees know if they are potentially going to be affected by these reductions? How are they being notified?

Once officials inform directors of the affected positions, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to initially counsel their employees. Affected employees will then receive written notification a minimum of 60 days in advance of any action that will affect their position.

Will there be more reductions? If so, when?

This reduction only applies to FY12 Army civilian manning figures. These numbers do NOT reflect potential future reductions or any action associated with sequestration.

Is it possible to resolve the recommended reductions of positions through attrition?

Attrition is a mitigation factor, yes, but not an across-the-board solution. Affected positions are already identified, but those who may leave other positions or retire during this time may likely open their position for those affected by the restructuring.

Will the Army be offering incentives to encourage people to leave early?

Yes. To the extent possible, the Army will focus on voluntary departures to achieve these reductions. We will provide assistance to affected employees to ease their transition. Commanders and directors will be responsible for shaping their workforce within their allocated budget and for using options available to achieve reduction objectives while mitigating adverse impact on the workforce, where possible. Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) are discretionary management tools that may be used to reduce the number of personnel or to restructure the workforce to meet mission objectives.

I’ve heard there is a hiring freeze at Fort Benning. Is that part of the reduction efforts?

Fort Benning is under a selective hiring freeze. That means we are only hiring employees for positions from within the same command as part of our restructuring efforts. In other words, TRADOC is hiring employees from within TRADOC and IMCOM is hiring from within IMCOM. This allows for those who may have been adversely affected by the Army’s civilian manpower reductions to have the best chance of gaining another placement. In some cases, if a direct match placement cannot be made, we have been allowed to openly compete positions.

What programs are available to mitigate adverse impact to individuals affected by these reductions – those in jeopardy of losing their position?

The type of action and the individual employee’s status will determine eligibility for these programs.

  1. Priority Placement Program (PPP). PPP is an automated system for the referral of displaced employees. Employees registered in the program receive priority consideration for filling DOD vacancies. Program criteria and eligibility requirements are found in the DOD Priority Placement Program Manual, current version.
  2. Interagency Career Transition Program (ICTAP). ICTAP is a special interagency transition assistance program specifically for Federal employees affected by downsizing. Through ICTAP, employees receive special selection priority consideration when applying for vacancies in other Federal agencies.
  3. Reemployment Priority List (RPL). The RPL is a statutory placement program administered under the provisions of 5 CFR Part 330, Subpart B. Under this program, an agency must give reemployment consideration to its competitive service employees separated by reduction in force (RIF). Each agency must maintain an RPL for each commuting area. The DOD is considered an “agency” for purposes of this program and uses automated procedures to provide registration and mandatory referral.
  4. Job Fairs. Employees should be encouraged to attend local job fairs. Additionally, organizations may utilize the services of the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP), Army Community Services Employment Readiness Program or contract outplacement firms to provide training for resume writing, interviewing techniques and job search.
  5. State Employment Offices. State Employment Offices may offer many services for employees facing the possibility of job loss. Employees should be encouraged to visit these offices so that they may be advised of their rights and benefits.
  6. IMCOM Enterprise Placement Program (IEPP). IEPP is a voluntary referral and placement program for IMCOM employees who may be adversely affected by these reductions.
What will happen to term and temporary employees?

In many cases, temp and some term employees will be released at the end of their current terms. These employees are encouraged to seek the advice of their supervisor to learn the specifics of their position and the way ahead. It is not feasible to release every employee under a term appointment because of the function their position performs. But overall, these employees accept a term/temp position with the understanding that their job is not permanent and at some point, the need for their position will go away.

Will these reductions affect future hiring actions?

The current fiscal environment makes budget prediction difficult. Commanders and directors are responsible for shaping their workforce within their allocated budgets. Commanders are in the best position to determine where and when mission critical hires are required.

What about all of the growth from BRAC? Are the employees who were hired as part of BRAC going to lose their positions?

TRADOC realized its BRAC growth at Fort Benning early in the BRAC process. Now that all the pieces are in place, we are finding that a restructuring is necessary to better reflect the needs of training. IMCOM is just now realizing its growth to accommodate BRAC and will be gaining positions as a result of restructuring the workforce.

What will happen if Fort Benning does not reach the target numbers through voluntary means?

Wherever possible, we will rely on voluntary separation incentives to ease the burden on those employees who may be affected. Your Fort Benning team understands the impact of personnel reductions on our civilian employees and we are focused on keeping involuntary separations – like those executed by a reduction in force – to the minimum necessary. Non-voluntary force reduction tools – short of RIF – may include release of temporary employees, separation of highly qualified experts (HQE) separation of re-employed annuitants, management-directed reassignments and furloughs, and not renewing term appointments. If these measures do not get us to the required number of civilian personnel levels, then a RIF may be considered. It is important to remember that only the Secretary of the Army has the authority to approve a RIF within the Army.

When can I expect more information?

We will keep the workforce and the community informed with information as we receive it. The most up-to-date information will be found on our website at www.benning.army.mil/civinfo/.

Latest news

Related Links

For more information