Air Force announces hiring freeze, buyouts

Friday - 8/12/2011, 2:12pm EDT

By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Air Force will freeze the hiring of any new civilians for 90 days, the service said in a statement Friday.

The freeze became effective August 9, and will be accompanied by buyouts and early retirements under the Voluntarily Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Early Separation programs. The Air Force will also draw down its numbers of temporary and term employees. Officials did not immediately specify how many buyouts they planned to offer, nor did they place a number on their overall workforce reduction goals.

"We are operating in a very challenging fiscal environment and are focused on meeting mission requirements with a reduced budget." said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "We are mindful of the potential impacts of budget constraints on our civilian force and their families, which is why we are seeking to reduce the need for involuntary measures."

The objective of the measures, an Air Force spokeswoman said, is to hold the civilian workforce to the levels authorized for fiscal year 2010. That would require reducing the Air Force's projected growth in civilian billets by approximately 4,000 jobs, she said.

The Air Force employed 167,765 civilians as of the end of July.

The Air Force was already attempting to draw down its civilian workforce by hiring only one employee for every two that left, officials told Federal News Radio in July.

All of the Air Force's major commands, direct reporting units and field agencies will be impacted by the civilian workforce changes, officials said.

The news comes as two other agencies make workforce announcements. The Government Accountability Office said this week it will offer buyouts to employees in 56 positions. Last night, the U.S. Postal Service said it is considering 120,000 job cuts as it deals with losses of at least $8 billion this year.

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