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Defense payroll workers fear job losses under new Navy plan

DEFENSE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING SERVICE/FACEBOOK

By SABRINA EATON | cleveland.com | Published: October 26, 2019

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tribune News Service) — Laurie Glicker has spent the past 39 years working as a military pay claims examiner at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service office in Cleveland. In upcoming months, she says her job will be transferred to the Navy in 2021 as part of a new payroll system for navy employees.

While a Navy spokesman said nobody in Cleveland will lose their jobs in the transition, Glicker and other Cleveland workers worry the new payroll program will eventually transfer jobs from Cleveland to a Navy base in Millington, Tennessee, that handles naval personnel and support functions.

“Everyone is concerned," reports Glicker, who serves as executive vice president of the facility’s American Federation of Government Employees Local 3283.

“When the Navy takes over those jobs, I don’t see why they would keep that work in Cleveland because they are based in Tennessee,” agrees the union local’s president, Denise Glover.

Workers at Cleveland’s DFAS facility currently process active duty and reserve pay for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as military retiree and annuitant pay for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, pay for civilian defense workers, and pay garnishments over issues like child and spousal support for all military branches. They are headquartered in the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building and the North Point Building downtown.

In upcoming months, Glicker says the new system will affect the jobs of approximately 100 of the more than 2,000 DFAS employees in Cleveland. She says 40 to 50 of Cleveland’s military pay claims examiners will have to apply for similar jobs working for the Navy while the rest will be reassigned to other DFAS divisions in Cleveland.

Navy spokesman Dave Hecht says the change is the result of a 2009 order from the Secretary of Defense that every military branch improve its pay and personnel systems. Since then, the Navy has worked with DFAS in Cleveland and other “stakeholders” to develop a new “Navy Pay and Personnel (NP2)” system, which will eliminate inefficiencies in the system and improve financial reporting and auditability.

Hecht said that an August agreement between the Navy and DFAS stipulated that DFAS workers would operate the new payroll system, which is being phased in through the 2022 fiscal year.

“As part of this effort we are evaluating functions performed by both Navy and DFAS with the purpose of eliminating outdated processes that result in errors and require manual intervention and implementing a new personnel and pay system in partnership with DFAS,” said a statement from Hecht. “DFAS and Navy will both have roles in pay operations in Cleveland going forward – a pay operations group will remain in Ohio.”

Hecht said that under the new payroll system, DFAS will continue the centralized functions of Treasury system disbursing file certification, taxes, garnishments, out-of-service debt, adoption reimbursement, and Savings Deposit Program. Additionally, a pay operations group will remain in Ohio.

"As these efforts continue, updates in the work agreement, roles and responsibilities, and implementation of new processes will be continuously communicated to affected stakeholders,” said Hecht.

DFAS spokesman Steve Burghart said the new Navy payroll system will integrate military human resources, payroll, and talent management for Department of Navy Active and Reserve service members. He said DFAS has collaborated on its development but, “decisions on the specific roles and responsibilities for DFAS and Navy following NP2 implementation have not been completed.

"Until this analysis is complete and decisions are finalized, specific impacts on employees will be unknown, but are expected to be minimal,” Burghart said.

Union president Glover said that even though no current employees are expected to lose their jobs, workers fear the plan will ultimately reduce the DFAS headcount in Cleveland, which would be another blow to the area’s economy. She said the union will ask Cleveland-area members of Congress to help DFAS retain the jobs in Cleveland.

“I don’t know if it will help us, but we will talk to them,” Glover said.

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