NEWS | Jan. 31, 2013

AF leaders deliver budget guidance to force

By Capt. Frank Hartnett Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

(This article has been localized with Joint Base Charleston specific information. The original Air Force News article can be found at http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123332845)

Following guidance from Air Force leadership on the uncertain budget environment ahead, commanders at the installation level are currently developing plans in order to execute these steps in the most efficient and appropriate manner.

Impacts to the Air Force include curtailing non-readiness or non-mission-essential flying and travel; curtailing or stopping minor purchases such as furniture and information technology refresh; deferring non-emergency facility sustainment, restoration and modernization; and implementing a civilian hiring freeze as well as release of non-mission critical temporary employees.

"We are still working through many questions and how to best implement our near term actions. However, there are areas that, at this time, we can clearly assess. These areas include the local impacts of the hiring freeze and how budgetary controls may affect our term and temporary employees," said Col. Richard McComb, Joint Base Charleston commander.

These actions are part of the efforts Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta requested of each service to help mitigate budget risks. "I've asked the military services and the other components to immediately begin implementing prudent measures that will help mitigate our budget risk," said Panetta. "For now, I've made clear that these actions must be reversible to the extent feasible and must minimize harmful effects on readiness. But we really have no choice but to prepare for the worst."

Locally, as part of the budget measures being taken, a hiring freeze was implemented for permanent, temporary and term vacancies. JB Charleston has 23 term employees. Of these, only one is scheduled to expire in the near term. The base also currently has one temporary employee and 83 vacant positions where requests for personnel action (RPA) have been submitted for hiring. In cases where hiring is being done for a mission critical position, the base has the option to submit an exemption to the policy for consideration.

Positions that have been submitted for classification will continue to be processed; however, recruitment for any vacant positions is subject to the rules governing the hiring freeze which limits any hiring to internal Air Force employees.

"As part of the budget measures being taken, a hiring freeze on external candidates was implemented. This measure is only the near term action that the Joint Base may experience in the coming months. It will be imperative for us as an installation to take a hard look now at our processes and our current spending, and to focus our expenditures and efforts on items that are mission essential in nature," said McComb.

Unit leadership and representatives from the Civilian Personnel Office will be contacting units directly who may be impacted by the hiring freeze or who have term or temporary employees. For questions or concerns regarding these measures, please contact the Civilian Personnel office at 963-4500.

"In the coming months, we will continue to have more clarity on what actions will need to be taken at the local level. We will continue to keep you informed of the decisions that are made and how they impact you directly. We value the daily personal sacrifices and dedication you have made not only to this country but to the installation. We appreciate your patience and trust as we work through the challenges in the coming months ahead," said McComb.