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AF civilians have another shot at early retirement, separation

Mar. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Cox interview MWM 20131231
Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said that the military and civilian cuts are 'designed to maintain a smaller, more streamlined, ready and capable force in the future.' (Mike Morones/Air Force)
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The Air Force said March 26 it will offer a second round of early retirements and voluntary separation payments to civilian employees.

The latest round of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay is being rolled out while military service members are facing their own voluntary and involuntary force cuts.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said that the military and civilian cuts are “designed to maintain a smaller, more streamlined, ready and capable force in the future.”

“We recognize the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce but must manage within department fiscal constraints to meet the mission needs of the years to come,” Cox said.

The Air Force in December said it needs to cut roughly 900 civilian positions in fiscal 2014, and rolled out its first round of VERA and VSIP to help reach that goal. The release did not say how many civilian employees took the incentives in the first round or how many the Air Force hopes will take the second round.

The VSIP program will provide up to $25,000 to employees whose voluntary separation would save other employees from being involuntarily separated.

Col. Brian Kelly, director of force management policy, said the Air Force wants to use voluntary retirements and separations as much as possible to avoid having to involuntarily separate civilian employees through a reduction in force. He said involuntary separations will only be used as a last resort.

The Air Force will also use other procedures — such as reassigning civilians to other jobs at their installations while retaining their pay and grade — to avoid involuntary separations, Kelly said. RIF authorities also allow managers to waive qualifications to expand the number of jobs in which employees can be reassigned.

RIF procedures also allow eligible employees who can’t be placed in local vacant jobs to be registered in the Priority Placement Program to help them find other jobs.

“We simply cannot accomplish the mission without our civilian airmen, and that won’t change even after reductions,” Kelly said. “The Defense Department is going through an intense period of budgetary challenges and we are using every force shaping tool available on both the military and civilian side to lessen the impacts on our force. And, while aggressive, the plan to reduce the size of the force provides long-term stability beyond fiscal 2015.”

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