Post town hall meeting addresses sequester issue Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 March 2013
By Robert Johnson
Managing editor
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The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood garrison hosted a town hall meeting Feb. 27 in Nutter Field House to relay information to the civilian work force concerning the impact of Sequester as a result of the Budget Control Act signed into law in 2011.

Brig. Gen. Duke DeLuca, U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, led the briefing and discussion and began by outlining the reduction of funding the Army is currently facing.

“We’re going to share with you what we know today, what we have been asked to consider and what we should plan for in the future. We can share with you, what little we do know, today, but these issues could change with little notice,” DeLuca said.

There are three budget forces coming together to create a “perfect storm” creating the reduction of funds for the Army, DeLuca said.

“In August of 2011, there was a thing called the Budget Control Act passed, and it incorporated a lot of things that the Army was already planning to do,” he said. This included reduction of active Army personnel, Guard and Reserve and Department of Army civilians.

The second part of the storm is the continuing resolution.

“Without a budget and operating under a continuing resolution, we can only spend money on things we spent money on last year. Not new programs, not additional funds … only the things we spent money for last year,” DeLuca added.

The key date for the continuing resolution is March 27, as it expires on that date. The Congress must act to continue to fund the government, to include the Defense Department beyond that date, DeLuca said.

    The third part of storm is the sequester portion of the BCA. This part requires additional cuts if agreements on funding could not be reached by March 1, DeLuca said.

    “With the cuts we have to make, they are all coming in the second half of the year, so the flexibility to absorb the cuts is limited,” he said.

    One of the ways to meet some of the cuts is to furlough personnel. The military are except by presidential order, but President Obama does not have the authority to exempt civilians, DeLuca said.

    “At this time, there is planning for furloughs, but beyond that, we haven’t received much guidance on how to implement them,” DeLuca said.

    “No one has told us what number (budget) we need to get to or how to get to it,” DeLuca said. What is known is that that there has been no decision on furloughs at this time and that potential furloughs would be used as a tool of last resort. Potentially, this could be one day per week for 22 weeks.

    “If any decision is made, all employees will get 30 days notice in advance,” DeLuca said.

    Additionally, DeLuca said that if furloughed, employees would not be able to substitute leave or comp time for the time off and that an employee was prohibited from working — even voluntarily — during a furloughed period.

    “I ask you all to remain calm. We will get additional information to you as it becomes available. We know that we won’t be able to have a post-wide town hall meeting like this for every new bit of information, but we will work to ensure that information is passed through the chain of command,” DeLuca said.

    DeLuca added that the command would work to fight rumors through websites, the chain-of-command and Facebook sites.

    For more information on sequester and potential furloughs, employees should visit the following web sites for the latest information.    

    OPM Revised Guidance — http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/guidance-for-administrative-furloughs.pdf

OPM Supplemental Guidance — http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/supplemental-guidance-administrative-furloughs.pdf

OPM Addendum Number 2:  OPM has issued an addendum to its February 2013 furlough guidance, concerning leave accrual and retirement annuity benefits.  The next iteration of the OPM master guidance will incorporate this addendum. http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/#url=Administrative-Furlough

OPM Addendum Number 3:  OPM has issued an addendum to its February 2013 furlough guidance, concerning travel expenses for employees affected by administrative furlough.  The next iteration of the OPM master guidance will incorporate this addendum. http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/#url=Administrative-Furlough

Training and Doctrine Command released a new civilian workforce web page on the TRADOC web site, http://www.tradoc.army.mil/CivInfo.asp. The intent of the web page is to provide the TRADOC civilian workforce with information about the potential effects of the current fiscal uncertainty. The site includes a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, senior leader guidance, and a way to submit questions directly to the TRADOC G-1 Team.   

Army Benefits Center — http://www.abc.army.mil. This site has a link which post benefits information and has a link to Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Services Furlough Guidance, which includes DODs Furlough Guidance and FAQs.

Department of Labor and Industrial Affairs — Employees can visit www.labor.mo.gov for guidance on claiming unemployment.



   
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 March 2013 )