Metro-East News

Scott AFB to lose 12 civilian jobs as part of Air Force-wide personnel cuts

Scott Air Force Base is escaping relatively unscathed from Air Force plans to reduce its civilian work force by 1,000 positions at 48 installations no later than April 4.

Twelve civilian jobs at Scott will be cut, but it still remains unclear what offices, programs or commands at Scott will be hit with the job cuts.

On an informational flyer known as a “Did You Know” sheet, base employees were informed that Jan. 29 is the cut-off date for any updates. What’s more, information submitted after that date cannot be considered “in determining the employee’s qualifications for placement to other positions,” according to the document.

Scott AFB will be minimally affected by 2016, RIF actions, according Karen Pettit, a base spokeswoman.

“Base human resource personnel are developing notification information to the dozen or so employees who may be impacted,” Pettit said in a written statement. “There are procedures in place to avoid involuntary separations; final impacting numbers may not be available until April. The Air Force’s process seeks to place employees into unaffected position vacancies for which the member is qualified and also exhaust all employment avenues before an involuntary separation takes effect.”

It remains unclear how many of the dozen employees will be allowed to keep their federal employment by switching over to jobs that are currently unfilled.

An Air Force review in 2015 identified more than 1,000 “overages” or excess jobs at 48 installations around the world, resulting in positions that are no longer funded.

The Air Force is seeking to take unfunded positions off the books, Rose Richeson, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon told Stars and Stripes last week.

A reduction-in-force order gives units “latitude and options” on how to place and move affected employees into funded positions and “clear off any positions that are unfunded,” Richeson said.

The goal, the service said, will be to place most of the remaining civilians into funded positions if possible.

To make a job placement easier, an employee’s job grade can be reduced; pay and grade protections can be retained; and certain qualifications can be waived, officials said.

Since 2014, the Air Force has engaged in voluntary efforts to pare the size of its civilian workforce. The branch attempted to shed 3,500 employees through buyouts and early retirement offers in 2014, and offered more incentives last year.

So far job cuts have focused on headquarters offices, following a directive from then Defense Department Secretary Chuck Hagel to trim HQ staff by 20 percent. If not for those efforts, the Air Force said, the current round of involuntary separation would be far more severe.

“Voluntary efforts to balance the civilian workforce since fiscal year 2014 have moved us significantly closer to our target manning levels,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “We have reduced the number of affected employees through several rounds of voluntary separation and retirement programs as well as reassignments to vacant positions.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000