Air Force easing civilian hiring freeze

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 14, 2011

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force is easing its months-long freeze on hiring civilians, a change that goes into effect starting Thursday.

The hiring freeze, which began Aug. 9, as well as the elimination of 9,000 civilian jobs across the service, were among several measures the Air Force implemented this year to downsize its civilian workforce in the face of reduced budget funding. Before the freeze, the Air Force instituted a hiring slowdown, filling only one-half of its vacant civilian jobs since May 13.

“We have made significant progress in reducing manning levels through various programs,” said Michelle LoweSolis, Air Force Personnel Center civilian force integration director, as quoted in an Air Force news release.

While the Air Force has identified an additional 4,500 civilian jobs for elimination, many of those are already vacant, and the hiring freeze resulted in more vacant positions, LoweSolis said. The Air Force anticipates implementing a second round of voluntary separation measures in January, she said.

The Defense Department is requiring the Air Force and the other military services to limit civilian funding to fiscal 2010 levels, as the department looks to reduce spending by close to $500 billion over the next decade.

Hundreds of Air Force civilians in Europe and the Pacific lost their jobs last month as part of a major, service-wide restructuring tied to that effort.

About 220 civilians across USAFE were in jobs that were cut last month, USAFE spokesman Maj. Rickardo Bodden said in a written statement. “The first priority of the command is to take actions to place these civilians in to current vacancies for which they may qualify.”

LoweSolis said even with the end of the Air Force hiring freeze, “budget and funding issues are still fluid, so major command and wing leaders must be alert to changing conditions, as they’ll have the responsibility to control hiring to stay below targeted levels.”

The Army plans to eliminate nearly 8,500 civilian jobs in 2012.



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