Air Force marks 4,500 more civilian jobs for elimination

Wednesday - 1/11/2012, 8:28pm EST

The Air Force has targeted an additional 4,500 civilian positions for elimination as it completes a broad restructuring of its civilian workforce.

The latest reductions follow a rebalancing in November, which saw 9,000 positions marked for elimination. However, that realignment also called for the addition of 5,900 new positions in higher-priority areas.

In a Jan. 10 release, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the service was "trying to do everything possible to manage these reductions with as little impact to our people as possible."

The newly announced cuts follow a series of significant steps the service has taken to rebalance its civilian workforce as part of a requirement to keep civilian funding at fiscal-year 2010 levels — part of the Pentagon's efficiency initiatives.

Last week, the Air Force announced it was seeking a second wave of buyouts and early retirements. Those who are eligible and opt in must leave — either through voluntary early retirement authority (VERA) or voluntary separation incentive pay (VSIP) — by April 30.

Last year, the service sought early outs for more than 6,000 employees.

In August, the Air Force instituted a 90-day hiring freeze, which ended last month. Some hiring controls remain in place.

The Air Force's workforce reductions have drawn the ire of at least one federal union.

The American Federation of Government Employees denounced the first round of job cuts, calling the 2010 funding threshold an "artificial cap."

No word yet on RIFs

The funding cap could lead the service to pursue more severe options. According to the Air Force release, officials are "still evaluating the need" for layoffs, known as a reduction in force.

Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, the director of manpower, organization and resources, said officials are "surveying the workforce" for the second round of buyouts and are "in the midst of management reassignments" that resulted from the November restructuring, according to the release.

"Once we exhaust all voluntary force-management measures, a determination will be made whether or not a RIF is necessary," Grosso said, adding that the service will have more information in the spring.

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