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News > Scott AFB responds to Sequestration mandates
Scott AFB responds to Sequestration mandates

Posted 3/6/2013   Updated 3/6/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Karen Petitt
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


3/6/2013 - SCOTT AFB, Ill.  -- Senior officials at Scott AFB have been working hard to respond to mandatory budget reductions as a result of sequestration. As these plans are developed, the full effects of how it will impact Scott AFB are now starting to emerge.

Immediate actions that have already begun involve the impending furloughs of 4,500 civilians who work here, many in 24-hour operational cells where they mission plan for the DoD's logistics requirements whether it be by land, sea or air, as well as in cyber and information technology related fields.

Only a few of the 800,000 civilians across the Department of Defense will be exempt from the furloughs, which will require civilians to take a total of 22 days of unpaid leave of absence from work starting slated to begin the April 21 pay period and last through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2013. It is not known at this time if furloughs will continue beyond that date. Civilians will not be allowed to work from home nor volunteer to perform their duties during furlough days, and could find themselves facing disciplinary actions if they do so.

Col. David Almand, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, said, "We estimate that the loss of pay revenue for our civilians would be approximately $28 million. In addition, we've seen a civilian hiring freeze and elimination of contracts for our term and temporary hires. Some contractors may be seeing elimination or reduction of projects due to the budget uncertainty. All of this adds up to have an impact on our mission, our personal family budgets and on the local economy. Right now, we're working to mitigate its effects on our missions and readiness. Certainly our military members will feel the brunt of the impact, and, while we don't expect them to replace the full capability of the civilian workload, they'll need to carry on to ensure our missions are accomplished."

Most civilian employees will find themselves working just four days each week, though commanders have some leeway in determining how best to manage the schedules based on their mission. A list of agencies that need to adjust their customer service hours around the base as a result of the furloughs will be kept at www.scott.af.mil.

For instance, the Exchange manager Michael Patmon said local stores won't see any changes in their operating hours or staffing levels. In addition, there are several family and recreational type activities such as the bowling center, golf course or Scott Club, which are self-sustaining organizations and operate from a different budget source, so they are not directly affected by the sequestration. These organizations employ approximately 500 employees who are not be affected by furlough actions.

The 375th AMW, which flies the C-21 aircraft in support of senior leader and aeromedical evacuation missions, is waiting on further direction from its higher headquarters, Air Mobility Command, on how it plans to address operational support. The Air Force has already announced that it will reduce flying hours by as much as 18 percent -- approximately 203,000 hours -- and impacts will be felt across the service and directly affect operational and training missions.

In a previously released statement, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, said, "While we will protect flying operations in Afghanistan and other contingency areas, nuclear deterrence and initial flight training, roughly two-thirds of our active-duty combat Air Force units will curtail home station training."

Because of the reduced flying hours already announced and impacts from civilian furloughs, the wing is planning to close the airfield during non-peak hours, instead of operating 24/7. The wing has already cut back on the hours it's flying the C-21s, while still working to maintain aircrew proficiency, and is working this week with AMC to outline further cuts it may need to take. Those details will be provided once identified, along with other cuts expected in the areas of construction and contracting.

Meanwhile, civilian employees are busy tweaking their own checkbooks as they brace for their reductions in pay.

Marilee Reuter, deputy chief of wing safety, acknowledged that while it could be worse, the loss in pay frustrates her when she sees other ways to reduce spending in the system. She said she's also concerned about how it will affect her office.

"The manning in my office is already down. My boss is deployed, and I'm trying to fill his position and my own. One of our civilian employees retired in December and his position remains vacant. The position cannot be filled due to the hiring freeze. I have two more personnel deploying and now our little office of 11 has to work around civilian furloughs."

The term sequestration was virtually unheard of until earlier this year, but soon became a household word as both military and civilian employees began preparing in January for significant reductions in their operating budgets--both at work and individual incomes via a workforce furlough. It refers to the mandatory reduction in federal budgetary resources not exempted by statue, and came as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

By law, sequestration will last 10 years and cut a total of $1.2 trillion--half from defense, half from non-defense agencies. For the defense budget, the cuts for FY2013 would equal $46 billion, of which the civilian furlough actions make up $5 billion in cuts, leaving the remaining $40 billion to be cut from other mission/operational requirements.

In addition to sequestration woes, congress has not passed an appropriations budget for FY2013 and the military has been operating under a Continuing Resolution that keeps the DoD funded only at previous FY2012 levels until March 27. Although sequestration has been triggered, DoD officials said they hope that Congress will pass a balanced deficit reduction plan that the President can sign, and thus ultimately reverse sequestration.



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