By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
Department of Defense civilians received good news last week when Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a reduction in furlough days. While that was a step in the right direction, Emmet Holley, the garrison deputy, announced at the Aug. 8 garrison town hall in Waybur Theater that a garrison reduction in force will take place over the course of the next few months.
The RIF, which could affect about 35 people, was approved because critical garrison vacancies cannot be filled until positions deemed as overhire by U.S. Army Installation Management are reduced.
Employees already identified as being potentially affected via a mock RIF received mock RIF letters prior to the town hall, which affords them an opportunity to more quickly enroll in the Priority Placement Program in hopes of finding other government employment. Holley reminded everyone that the Fort Knox Civilian Personnel Advisory Center didn’t cause the RIF; they were there to help. Holley also thanked garrison employees for their outstanding customer service during these challenging times.
“I want to let you know we as a garrison take care of our customers,” said Holley. “We will make the best use of our resources.”
The town hall also provided new Garrison Commander Col. T.J. Edwards an opportunity to address the garrison work force and describe his leadership philosophies. He told the garrison, “I want to do the very best that I possibly can, but it’s not about me, it’s about doing the best I can for you, our customer and for Fort Knox. I’m a Christian and I believe in the golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated. I think that’s very important. I want to make a positive impact.”
Edwards acknowledged the challenges he faces with current fiscal uncertainties, recent furloughs and news of the pending inactivation of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, but he added that his goal is to come to work every day and make a difference. He said he also believes in frequent dialogue.
“One of my styles is to work inclusively,” explained Edwards.
After Edwards’ introduction, Holley detailed to the work force the cuts that have been made
with regard to positions. He pointed out that about two to three years ago the garrison had 732 employees. Now that number is about 540.
“We are still over our people (that we can) have on board by January 2014,” explained Holley. “Most people I know in leadership don’t believe this will be our only cut. I don’t want you to get too comfortable. I want us to start preparing.”
Diann Richardson, a CPAC human resource specialist, touched on the mock RIF letters that some employees received. She also explained a RIF and what’s ahead.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, a RIF is a federal government layoff. When an agency must abolish positions, the RIF regulations determine whether an employee keeps his or her present position, or whether the employee has a right to a different position.
“We did (a RIF) so we could prepare for PPP (the Priority Placement Program),” she said. “In a couple of weeks (we are) going to do a real RIF.”
Lashon Fleming from CPAC was also on hand and explained the PPP process, and its different categories and how those impacted in PPP can register.