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Wright-Patterson center to avoid furloughs in 2014

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, which accounts for close to half the workforce at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will avoid furloughs this year but could lose hundreds of jobs because of service-wide budget cuts.

The center, which is headquartered at Wright-Patt, has 26,000 employees scattered at 77 sites around the globe, about half who work at the Miami Valley base. The cuts would include up to 400 military jobs and 600 civilian positions spread across those 77 locations. Attrition will be used to draw down the civilian force.

“The good news is now that we know our budget we can tell all of our civilian employees with confidence we’re not planning a furlough, there’s not going to be a reduction in force, because we understand our budget situation,” AFLCMC commander Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II said.

Moore said booming foreign military sales, which will require some additional hiring, could offset about half of the civilian job losses.

In an exclusive interview, Moore and Patsy J. Reeves, executive director of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, outlined what’s ahead at the center, which has a roughly $30 billion budget and oversees the development, acquisition and sustainment of aircraft, engines, munitions and electronics and cyber systems.

The two top leaders talked about Air Force acquisition priorities, a new $5 billion small business contract to shrink the number of professional support contracts, and the status of the budget after a year of uncertainty that caused hits to readiness, maintenance and the furloughs of most civil servants.

“The budgets are going down but there is predictability so that we can be proactive about optimizing what we have,” Reeves said.

Leaner organization

About 80 jobs will be cut from the Life Cycle Management Center headquarters, which employs 400 people throughout AFLCMC. The cuts would be in line with a Department of Defense directive to shed 20 percent of headquarters employees to pare costs.

“We are carefully examining all of our staff requirements, and it’s not just here, it’s across our 77 locations,” Moore said. “We will be a leaner organization by the end of this year…”

Moore, the first AFLCMC commander, said the center has pushed a culture of cost consciousness, long-term product support and cyber security in the months since he assumed command in 2012.

In a push to reduce expenses, the center has initiated a five-year, $5 billion small business contract to acquire professional support services in engineering, financial management, transportation, construction and repair at all AFLCMC locations.

The General Services Administration program, called One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS), has selected 40 companies — including six locally — to compete for 30 contracts over the next 18 months.

The change will reduce the number of contracts from hundreds to dozens, according to Moore.

“We’ve taken an enterprise perspective on how we are going to manage our contractor workforce because it’s going to provide us much greater efficiency in hiring the right talent at all of our locations,” the three-star general said. “I think it’s good for us, and I think it’s good for our potential vendors.”

Contractors represent about 25 percent of the Life Cycle Management Center workforce, Reeves said. Locally, about 2,000 contractors work for the center.

Newly hired contractors could fill the void where there aren’t enough government workers.

“Some programs are ramping up so they will need a lot more (employees),” and others will draw down, Reeves said. “I think, overall, it will be stable. ”

Boosting readiness still top priority

Even as budgets shrink, purchasing new aircraft and weapons, modernizing older systems and boosting readiness rank as top priorities, Moore said.

“The Air Force will carefully balance those three factors, (recapitalization), modernization and readiness as they made future determinations on what to buy, what to modernize and where to put dollars for readiness,” said Moore, a former fighter pilot.

The military branch has three top acquisition priorities: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46 Pegasus aerial tanker and fielding a new long-range strike bomber next decade as it looks to cut as many as 20,400 active duty and reserve airmen and 2,700 civilian jobs by September 2015.

The Pentagon is in the early stages of replacing the E-8 Joint Stars, a surveillance aircraft with over-the-horizon side looking radar to spot ground forces, Moore added.

“The recognition as we pivot to the Pacific and we look at full spectrum of combat operations, (is) that we need to have that type of asset to balance our force,” he said.

As the U.S. military throttles back on spending, defense contractors have reached outside the United States to boost sales, Reeves said.

The demand has led to more business for the Air Force’s Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate headquartered at Wright-Patterson with a staff of nearly 700 employees.

Moore expected more employees will be added to handle demand, replacing about half the 600 civilian workers AFLCMC expects to lose through attrition and limits on the budget.

AFSAC recorded $141 billion in sales last year, a $6 billion hike from 2012. By comparison, foreign military sales registered $95 billion in revenue in 2009, statistics show.
 

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