Fort Stewart officials believe they can meet an ordered reduction in civilian force without layoffs, according to Col. Kevin Milton, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander.
So the primary focus of a town hall meeting in the post’s Main Post Chapel Thursday was on the Installation Management Command’s Enterprise Placement Program, which allows civil service personnel in at-risk positions to accept positions at to another installation, according the colonel.
“The purpose of today’s town hall meeting was to talk about IEPP,” Milton said after the meeting. “All hiring actions now go through IMCOM (parent unit of U.S. Army Garrison, Stewart-Hunter) for approval. That way, everybody in IMCOM can apply for a vacancy, and we can take care of the entire (U.S. Army) garrison workforce.”
Milton said he is confident Stewart-Hunter is going to meet its goal to reduce its civilian workforce to 1,172 employees by Sept. 30 without an involuntary reduction in force. He said the installation started with 1,517 employees when the Army directed all installations last year to reduce the civilian workforce by 8,700 employees by the end of this fiscal year.
According to a Dec. 12 press release by Fort Stewart Public Affairs, the cuts were based on a Department of Defense resource decision requiring a reduction of civilian personnel to comply with decreased funding. Fort Stewart’s goal is to reduce its civilian workforce by 340 positions through voluntary separations or normal attrition.
Because many civilian employees are spouses of soldiers and subject to permanent change-of-station moves each year, particularly during the summer months, Milton said the installation is meeting its goal without involuntary separations.
“We’re at 1,316 right now,” he said. “We’re (144) over strength, and we have 70 vacancies. Through normal attrition, we’re reducing our workforce by 23 people every month. If we were to have a RIF – and we’re not – there are four (categories) that determine an employee’s (retention standing under RIF procedures).”
He said those categories are tenure, preference eligibility, length of service and performance ratings. Tenure deals with the employee’s status, whether he or she is a competitive service position or excepted service position. Preference eligibility distinguishes veterans, veterans with a 30 percent or higher disability rating and employees who are not veterans, he said.
Length of service includes total federal service, combining civil service and military service for those employees who’ve “bought back” their military service. Performance ratings consider the three most recent annual appraisals in a four-year period.
Milton said 92 civilian employees have accepted early retirement or separation through the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments since August. Moves, resignation and retirement account for 220 positions each year.
Milton said no installation directorate was spared when determining how many positions would be cut.
“We were all given a target number by IMCOM,” he said.
“We’re going to execute a mock RIF (Friday),” the colonel said. “I believe it’s the right next step. Anybody whose job is identified as being in jeopardy – we’re going to place them in a priority placement program.”
Results from Friday’s mock RIF will be available on Wednesday. Those interested in the mock RIF results or who have questions about IEPP can call the Stewart-Hunter Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at 767-5051.