NEWS | Dec. 27, 2013

FY14 Military and Civilian Force Management Q&A

By 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Air Force leadership announced force management programs designed to reduce the force by thousands of Airmen over the next five years as a result of sequestration.
Fiscal year 2014 force management initiatives are in addition to the announcement made in July, stating the Air Force will implement several force management programs to meet budget reduction requirements.

Below are commonly asked questions regarding FY14 force management. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave a comment.

Q. Who do I contact to determine what FY14 Force Management programs are applicable to me?

A. Once specific details are available, AFPC will notify Airmen via official personnel messages and public news releases that will be posted on www.afpc.af.mil and www.af.mil. At that time, Airmen will be able to visit myPers at https://mypers.af.mil to read the personnel messages and guidance on eligibility and applications.

Q. How will I know if I'm affected by force management actions?

A. Specific board information will be released on the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.

Q. Why is the Air Force announcing this now when details on specific career fields aren't available?

A. The service has made a conscious decision to announce these force management programs now in order to give Airmen as much time as possible to plan for their futures. Specific career field details will be available in the coming weeks.

Q. What career fields are vulnerable for this round of force management measures? Can those selected for an force management-related separation volunteer for a different career field?

A. Specific career fields will be determined based on overages and identified on the matrix on myPers website by career field and year group. Airmen who are selected for a force management-related separation may have an opportunity to continue their service in either the Air Force Reserve or the National Guard.

Q. Does this mean that a high quality officer or enlisted member in an overmanned field can get kicked out when a lower quality member in an undermanned field gets to stay? If so, why? If not, how will it work for the high-quality members to be retained?

A. The AF will focus on retaining top performers across multiple AFSCs. Retention boards, for both officers and enlisted, will be charged to review records and select high performing Airmen for retention.

Q. Are rated and medical officers vulnerable to force management actions?

A. Yes, some rated and health professions officers will be eligible for voluntary and involuntary force management programs.

Q. What grades and year groups will be vulnerable for Force Shaping Boards (FSB) and Reductions in Force (RIF)?

A. RIFs impact regular officers with 6 or more years Total Active Commissioned Service and less than 18 years of Total Active Federal Military Service below the grade of Lieutenant Colonel who have served at least 1 year of active duty in the current grade; are not on a promotion list; and are not eligible for retirement or will not become eligible for retirement within 2 years. FSB will consider active duty officers with more than 3 but less than 6 years of commissioned service as of Dec. 31, 2014. Officers selected for separation under FSB are not entitled to any type of separation pay unless they have 6 or more years Total Active Federal Military Service.

Q. Are there any other enlisted programs scheduled for FY14?

A. At this time, the Air Force plans to continue the Date of Separation (DOS) Rollback Program and implement Enlisted Retention Boards. Additionally, enlisted in over-manned career fields with more than 15 but less than 20 years of service will be eligible for Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) Phase II. The Air Force also plans to offer Voluntary Separation Pay (VSP) to Airmen meeting an enlisted retention board with greater than 6 years but less than 15 years of service. Airmen meeting the quality force review board are not eligible for VSP.

Q. How will this affect specific bases and communities?

A. We don't know yet how this overall force reduction will affect specific bases or communities.

Chief Master Sergeant Retention Board

Q. How many chiefs will be considered by the board?

A. It's contingent upon the number of chiefs who apply and are approved under the voluntary retirement phase of the program. We won't have the answer to that question until the end of the volunteer phase.

Q. Will all career fields be considered or only selective fields?

A. This board will review the records of chief master sergeants in overage AFSCs and those with negative quality indicators and identify chiefs recommended for retirement.

Q. How long after meeting an involuntary board will members have to prepare for separation or retirement?

A. Approximately 4 months depending on board dates.

Q. Will there be an appeal process or is the board decision final?

A. Airmen always have the right to appeal any records related issues, and routinely do so via the Air Force Board of Military Records Correction. Guidance on the process is available on myPers at https://mypers.af.mil.

Q. Will ADSCs be waived? Which ones and to what degree?

A. The intent is to retain the highest quality Airmen. ADSCs will not be a factor in the process.

Q. Will Chiefs selected by the board for retirement have to repay TEB (Transfer of Education Benefits) to family?

A. If a chief meets the Department of VA Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility requirements, failure to be selected for retention will not impact benefits.

Q. What is the benefit for a chief in volunteering for retirement vs meeting the board?

A. A chief who volunteers for retirement will have more time to plan for retirement versus meeting the board and having 60 days less transition time.

Enlisted Retention Boards

Q. How long will members have to prepare to meet a retention board?

A. Enlisted members will be given 6 months advanced notice of when retention boards will meet. Specific board details with milestones for each board will be released by AFPC.

Q. Will members be able to submit a letter or memo to the retention board?

A. Specific board details will be announced in advance of each retention board.

Q. Will commanders be able to make a recommendation?

A. Yes, similar to officer retention boards, commanders will be required to make a retention recommendation.

Q. Will there be an appeal process for members selected for retirement/separation?

A. Airmen always have the right to appeal any records related issues, and routinely do so via the Air Force Board of Military Records Correction. Guidance on the process is available on myPers at https://mypers.af.mil.

Q. Will this be an ongoing process, like promotion boards?

A. Yes, under the new personnel management strategy, enlisted retention boards are an enduring performance-based management tool designed to retain a high performing leaner force.

Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Board

Q. What is an Enhanced Selective Early Retirement Board (ESERB)?

A. An ESERB allows the service to consider regular officers on the active duty list in the grades of Captain (with prior service) through Colonel for early retirement. Colonels with 2-4 years time in grade; lieutenant colonels who are retirement eligible and have been passed over once for promotion; and retirement eligible officers below the rank of Colonel on active duty. Eligible officers can be considered by competitive categories, grade, year group and AFSC. Colonels with at least 4 years time in grade and lieutenant colonels twice deferred to colonel are eligible for the regular SERB.

Q. Does ESERB provide the same "once every five years" eligibility constraint as the regular SERB?

A. No. Under the regular SERB, officers can only be considered by a board once every 5 years, which usually means each officer is considered once in a career. However, officers can be considered by consecutive ESERB boards every year until they voluntarily retire or become eligible for SERB.

Q. Does the Air Force plan to consider officers for ESERB by consecutive boards?

A. The Air Force will make that determination after finalizing the officer end strength target for the out-years and analyzing retention, gains and other force management factors.

Q. Why is the Air Force using an ESERB to meet end strength? Who will be considered? Just lieutenant colonels and colonels or captains and majors as well?

A. Under the law, eSERB allows for more flexibility to selectively consider officers for retirement. ESERB will consider lieutenant colonels once deferred for promotion, colonels with 2-4 years TIG, and retirement eligible majors.

Q. How many officers will be selected for ESERB?

A. By law, no more than 30% of the eligibles in each grade in each competitive category may be selected for early retirement by the ESERB. We continually assess manning in each competitive category with regard to projected end strength to determine respective ESERB selection rates.

Q. If the Air Force receives enough voluntary applications will it still conduct the ESERB?

A. We will continue to assess manning in each competitive category with regard to projected end strength to determine ESERB use and selection rates.

Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP)

Q. What is VERA?

A. The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) is a management tool used to downsize or restructure the civilian workforce to meet mission objectives. It authorizes employees to retire before reaching normal retirement eligibility based on age and years of Federal service. Reasons for approving VERA include substantial reduction in force (RIF), reorganization or transfer of function (TOF).
Eligibility for VERA may be based on occupational series or grade; skills, knowledge or other factors related to a position; organizational, geographical, non-personal and objective factors; or a combination of these factors.

Q. Who can authorize the use of VERA?

A. Authority for VERA previously delegated to installation commanders, tenant commanders and agency heads was recently rescinded. The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs retains the authority.

Q. Who can approve VSIP?

A. The Secretary of the Air Force has delegated this authority to HQ AF/A1, who has further delegated it to local installation commanders, tenant commanders and heads of activities. This authority cannot be delegated to any lower level. HQ AF/A1 retains the authority for employees assigned to the Central Salary Account. To maximize the use of voluntary measures to rebalance the civilian workforce, we expect all MAJCOM, installation and tenant commanders and heads of activities to use VERA/VSIP to the maximum extent possible to reduce or preclude future involuntary actions for AF employees. The goal is to preclude involuntary separations.

Q. What are the basic age and service requirements for VERA?

A. To be eligible for VERA, an Air Force employee must be either age 50 with 20 years of creditable service or have 25 years of total creditable service at any age. It is important to note that if an Air Force employee covered by the Civil Service Retirement System takes a VERA, he or she will face a 2 percent reduction in annuity for each year he or she is under the age of 55. There is no reduction for Air Force employees covered by the Federal Employee Retirement system.

Q. Are there any other restrictions that could prevent civilian employees from retiring under VERA?

A. Yes. Air Force employees on time-limited appointments (i.e., temporary or term appointments), and those who have not been continuously employed by DoD for more than 30 days before the date on which the determination to conduct a workforce reduction or restructuring action has been approved, are ineligible to receive a VERA. In addition, Air Force employees in receipt of a decision of involuntary separation for misconduct or unsatisfactory performance are not eligible for VERA.

Q. After the VERA window is opened, can management change the number of available VERAs, the targeted positions for which it is being offered, the deadline for applying or the date by which employees must retire if their applications are approved?

A. Yes. If the downsizing and/or restructuring needs change, management may subsequently revise the closing date for receipt of VERA applications or the effective date for VERA retirements, or reduce or increase the number of early retirement applications it will accept. Once an employee is approved for VERA, he or she will know all the final details before committing to retirement through the normal application process.

Q. If an employee accepts VERA, when will the retirement be effective?

A. It will depend on the effective date that AF decides upon for VERA/VSIP in FY14. At this time the proposed effective date is Feb. 28, 2014.

Q. What is VSIP?

A. Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP), commonly referred to as a buyout, is a payment of up to $25,000 to encourage eligible civilian employees to separate from service voluntarily (either by retirement or resignation) to avoid or minimize the need for involuntary separations due to reduction in force (RIF), base closure, reorganization, transfer of function or workforce restructuring. The buyout payment is equivalent to an employee's severance pay entitlement up to a maximum of $25,000 (before taxes). Buyouts are used at management's discretion and are not an employee entitlement.

Q. What are the basic eligibility requirements for VSIP?

A. An employee must be a U.S. citizen, employed in an appointment without time limitation and must have been employed by the Department for a continuous period of at least 12 months. An employee is ineligible for a buyout if he or she:
· Is a reemployed annuitant
· Is or would be eligible for disability retirement under any Federal employee retirement system
· Is on a Schedule C excepted appointment
· Is a non-compensated employee
· Has accepted a position with another Federal agency
· Has received a specific notice of RIF separation
· Has declined to relocate with his/her position or declined a transfer of function
· Has received a decision notice of involuntary separation for misconduct or unacceptable
performance or
· Has previously received a buyout

Q. If an Air Force employee meets the basic eligibility requirements, are there any other restrictions that would prevent offering VSIP?

A. Yes. Absent a waiver, an Air Force employee is ineligible for a buyout if he or she:
· Is covered by a written service agreement resulting from a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
or training, or is in receipt of a recruitment or relocation bonus
· Is receiving a retention allowance
· Is occupying a position defined as hard to fill or
· Is occupying a position for which special salary rates are approved

Q. Are there any restrictions on employees returning to work for the Federal Government after they separate with VSIP?

A. Yes. VSIP is essentially a buyout, so employees who accept VSIP cannot come back to work for the federal government for a minimum of 5 years after their buyout separation date. If they do, they will be required to pay back the buyout funds.

Q. Is VSIP paid in a lump sum or do employees have other payment options?

A. In addition to lump sum payment, two installment options are available. The first option is bi-weekly payments in equal amounts. The employee selects the amount, but the payments must be completed within 1 year of the date of separation. Under the second installment option, one half of the buyout is paid 6 months after separation and the remaining half is paid 6 months later.

Q. What happens if the number of employees applying for VSIP exceeds the number of available buyouts?

A. When the number of applicants exceeds the number of available buyouts, applications within the targeted group are processed in order of seniority based on the employees' leave service computation date (SCD-LV). The Air Force procedure is to place employees into three groups. The first is the group of employees who are eligible for retirement. The second is the group of employees who are eligible for early retirement. The third and final group is the group of employees that are interested in resigning (that is, the employees in this third group are not eligible for any type of retirement).The first group (those who are eligible to retire) is ranked in SCD-LV order with the one who has the most seniority at the top of the list. Matches of the buyout are then made. If all matches are completed from the first group, then the next group is reviewed and matches made. Finally, if the buyout matches have been made against both the first and second groups, and yet more employees are needed to take a buyout, then the matches are made against the third group.

Q. What should an employee do if he or she gets a survey to indicate interest in VERA/VSIP?

A. First, employees should review all the available information on the programs at the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil, and word search "VERA" and "VSIP". For annuity estimates, employees should go to the AFPC Benefits and Entitlements Service Team (BEST) automated web site (EBIS), and use the various tools, including the retirement calculator. With the information garnered at the myPers and BEST EBIS sites, employees should next contact their local CPS to discuss their individual situations and what steps to take in the event they are offered VERA and/or VSIP.

For more information, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.