By ROBERT DOZIER
U.S. Army Installation Management Command
Senior leaders at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command headquarters addressed the issue of an 11-day furlough for civilian personnel at a town hall meeting in the Fort Sam Houston Theatre at Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander, and IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice explained the effect of this action on employees throughout the installation management community and offered a look ahead as we close out this fiscal year and look to the next.
“The nation is in budget trouble and when the Budget Control Act and sequestration hit us, the Army knew they had to balance things like the size of the Army, and can we keep the world safe place,” said Ferriter. “The Army is determined to fund readiness first because we don’t want our Soldiers deploying without training.”
IMCOM has a major role in readiness and resilience of the force and is sharing in budget sacrifices. Compared to fiscal 2012, the IMCOM budget has been reduced by 21 percent.
“We’re OK thanks to the great work of many, including those sitting in this room,” said Brig. Gen. Curt Rauhut, IMCOM director of resource management (G-8). “We will be able to meet our mission and still tell a compelling story to Department of the Army headquarters, particularly the long-term effect of a 55 percent reduction in sustainment, restoration and modernization.”
“As a command, we are getting better at what we do and despite all that we face, we’ve been able to maintain without a reduction in force at headquarters,” said Ferriter. “Everywhere we save money and bend on the way we are doing things, it helps us move forward.”
The number of furlough days has been reduced from 22 down to 11 through the end of the fiscal year. Furloughs will save $1.8 billion from the overall military budget.
“With the memo from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, we are preparing for sending notices as soon as we can,” said Karen Perkins, IMCOM director of human resources (G-1). “We are going to begin training our supervisors so they will be able to address all your questions one-on-one.”
Notices will likely be distributed between May 28 and June 3, to meet the required 30-day notice before furloughs begin. Notices will identify both the “reply” official, who will receive the employee’s response, and the “deciding” official, who will respond to any employee protests to the furlough.
Technically, a furlough is an adverse action, because of its effect on the employee.
“An adverse furlough action does not reflect poorly on an employee’s conduct or performance,” said Perkins. “It is the technical name of the furlough that impacts the employee adversely. Every employee has the right to respond or challenge any adverse action to the Merit System Protection Board.”
All nonappropriated fund employees are exempt from sequestration furloughs.
“Furlough is big business,” said Ferriter. “It hurts you and we know it. It was a Defense Department all-in and we didn’t get a vote, but we know whoever you are and whatever you do, every piece of paper we touch is a Soldier or Family action. (Headquarters Department of the Army) knows the adverse effect if we are not there.... What you do makes a difference.”
“I love being on this team,” said Rice. “Look at what this team has done. Just think how the number of furlough days have been reduced from 22 to 11, how we’ve put your message through to HQ DA and they are listening. Our Soldier’s sacrifice is to give it all. Keep driving our cause because what you are doing makes a difference.”
“Our position in the Army is very strong,” said Ferriter. “We continue to evolve when we need to because people matter so we will continue to lead through these changes.”
IMCOM has announced that headquarters will move to a four-day work week during the furlough period; however, each garrison commander will make their own scheduling decisions locally.
Those garrisons under collective bargaining agreements have consulted directly with their union officials in preparation for furloughs. Employees who are members of a union are encouraged to consult with them for any updates and guidance.
After final furlough decision notices are sent, employees may appeal the agency’s decision to the Merit System Protection Board within 30 days from the effective date of the furlough.
Decisions regarding the termination of temporary and term employees will be made at the local garrison.