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Peterson announces civilian workforce restructuring

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Peterson AFB officials announced today the projected elimination of civilian positions in response to direction from the Department of Defense to cap civilian growth at fiscal year 2010 levels.

Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander, held a town hall meeting at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at the base auditorium to address the cuts being made at Peterson.

The initial assessment is that due to civilian hiring controls and other voluntary initiatives, Peterson Air Force Base currently has more government-civilian vacancies than eliminated positions. Leadership is working each case individually to place employees in other vacant positions.

"I am wholeheartedly committed to minimizing the impact on Peterson's civilian workforce," Crawford said. "Our civilians provide invaluable service to our country - service that is critical not just in accomplishing our day-to-day mission but for missions worldwide. Through early retirement, voluntary force management measures and the hiring freeze driving vacancies, we will try to place all affected employees into similar positions. As of right now, no actual personnel loss is expected."

Air Force-wide, approximately 9,000 positions were eliminated in similar career fields.

As part of the overall restructuring, 5,900 positions were added to top Air Force priorities in acquisition, the nuclear enterprise, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

"The Air Force can't afford to do business the way we've been doing it; it is unsustainable in the current budget environment," Crawford said. "We need to transform our programs to meet the needs of today's Airmen and families. This means the workforce and installations will look and operate differently in certain respects."

Altogether, these adjustments reflect several initiatives designed to align limited resources based on Air Force priorities. This process is an ongoing effort to increase efficiencies, reduce overhead and eliminate redundancy.

"The initiatives announced November 2 represent the next step toward that goal, but there is more work to be done," said Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, director of Manpower, Organization, and Resources. "The Air Force remains over fiscal year 2010 manpower levels and will continue to develop enterprise-wide solutions to achieve our goals with minimal impact to mission. The Air Force must still define an additional 4,500 civilian positions for reduction."

As details become final, Air Force officials will release information on the next set of initiatives.

Upon receiving the secretary of defense's 2010 memo directing that civilian manpower costs stay within fiscal year 2010 levels, the Air Force conducted a review of the entire Air Force civilian workforce to determine whether or not civilian authorizations were in the right places to meet mission priorities.

"We can't be successful without our talented and experienced civilian workforce," said Michael B. Donley, secretary of the Air Force. "We are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the force and will continue to look for new ways of accomplishing the mission. We can't afford business as usual."

The strategic review revealed several imbalances. Some high-priority areas needed to grow, while some management and overhead functions needed streamlining. These imbalances led to a variety of initiatives focused on realigning scarce manpower resources with the most critical missions.

Beginning in May 2011, the Air Force implemented a series of hiring controls and voluntary separation programs designed to reduce overall manpower costs, but these hiring controls did not provide the results required to operate within fiscal constraints.

"At this time, we are not sure whether a reduction in force will be necessary," Grosso said. "We are pursuing all available voluntary force management measures to include civilian hiring controls with the goal of avoiding non-voluntary measures. Every vacancy we don't fill brings us one position closer to fiscal year 2010 levels and reduces the possibility for a RIF."

"We clearly understand the turbulence these and future reductions will cause in the workforce," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff. "We are making every effort to use voluntary measures to achieve reductions whenever possible."

Given the constrained fiscal environment, Air Force members should expect continued workforce shaping measures affecting military, civilians, and contractors, Grosso said.

"We understand the stress caused by uncertainty and will do our best to share information across the workforce as soon as it becomes available," said Grosso.

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