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ARLINGTON, Va. — In an effort to save taxpayers money, the Army is going to ask many reservists serving on long-term temporary assignments if they will consider making those jobs permanent.

Starting Aug. 15, the Army will stop issuing temporary change of station, or TCS, orders of more than 180 days, Col. Richard Shrank, commander of the Army’s Finance Command, said Tuesday.

Instead, long-term TCS assignments — which Defense Department personnel more commonly refer to as temporary duty, or TDY — are going to be made into permanent change of station, or PCS, positions, Shrank said.

The policy change will affect about 16,000 reservists on TCS status worldwide, from the United States to Europe and the Pacific, said Col. Jim McKenzie, the Army’s Deputy Director of Reserve Affairs.

The new rules won’t affect reservists serving on long-term TCS orders that are due to wrap up before Jan. 31; they will complete their mission as specified, Shrank said.

They also won’t affect reservists on TCS assignments to combat zones, Shrank said.

But those reservists whose long-term TCS orders take them beyond Jan. 31 will be offered the choice of taking their job on PCS status or going home, so the command can fill the job with a permanent staffer.

For many people, “PCSing” involves selling or renting their home and moving their families to the base or installation where the job is located, McKenzie said.

So if an “incumbent” in a TCS position decides not to take the job on a PCS basis, his or her command can ask the Army for a waiver to keep the person on the job as a long-term TCS augmentee, “but those waivers will not be automatic,” McKenzie said.

And if the waiver is granted, the person on TCS orders will be given only 55 percent of the per-diem rate for that area, Shrank said — the same amount that civilian defense employees on long-term assignments receive.

Per diem, or daily rates, are payments given federal employees to reimburse them for lodging and meals. The rates depend on the cost of living in that area. For example, the maximum per diem in Tokyo is $298, compared to about $101 for Fort Bragg, N.C.

The lower rate that waivered TCS personnel will get will be enough to cover short-term apartment or condo leases that someone on a permanent assignment would be expected to seek, instead of considerably higher hotel costs, Shrank said.

The Army brings reservists in on TCS assignments to help boost staff levels during humanitarian or military contingency operations.

Reservists on TCS assignments can be found at any Army base, but are often clustered at major Army headquarters, such as the Pentagon and U.S. Army Europe in Germany, McKenzie said.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan missions, reservists have been given TCS assignment in larger numbers, and for longer periods of time, Shrank said.

With more and more people on TCS assignment, “We saw we could achieve some better cost controls,” Shrank said.


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