22 August 2011
It reminds me of Bob Woodward in All the Presidents Men. (Fort Hood prepares to cut civilian contractors, KDH, August 21st). The KDH focused on something shiny - in this case, two high profile police officers - and therefore failed to ask the right questions.
A more appropriate headline would have been this - DoD cuts 8% of federal civilian workforce: Impacts Fort Hood.
KDH editors and reporters would have first needed to know the difference between the types of civilians employed at Fort Hood: Department of the Army Civilians (DAC) and contractors. And no, they’re not the same. All the military services employ Civilians but an Army-centric primer is provided below.
•Individuals employed by DoD to perform specific duties for the Army as part of the Total Force.
•Hiring managed by an Army command in coordination with a regional Civilian Personnel Operations Center (CPOC) and local Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC).
•Positions are coded for Tenure (permanent, probationary, temporary or term) based on specific criteria.
•Hiring process usually takes months.
•Wages are determined by federal salary tables generated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
•May function as a Contracting Officers Representative (COR) or Technical Oversight Representative (TOR) to provide quality control and supervision of contracted functions via direct interaction with the management of contracted companies.
•Make decisions and commit government resources.
•Have Civilian Career Programs that specify areas of functional expertise and civilian education requirements and opportunities.
•Can be deployed just like Soldiers and would then normally wear the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) with distinctive DAC insignia.
•Individuals employed by a “for profit” company that provides specific services to the Army for a set period of time.
•Hiring managed by the company’s Human Resources department.
•Positions and contract terms are negotiated with employers.
•Hiring process can take hours but usually days or weeks.
•Wages determined via individual contract negotiations.
•Often supervised by CORs and TORs. Contractors work for their companies and not the Army or a COR/TOR.
•Provide services as above. This even applies to retired generals.
•Are usually hired as a functional expert or based on military “connections”.
•Individual contracts must specify overseas duties. Can wear ACUs (without rank/patches) but normally wear civilian clothes.
Officers Todd and Munley were DACs, not contractors. Fort Hood’s spokesperson apparently was speaking about DACs and the KDH article confirmed the reporter was confused and didn’t know the difference. Yet another rookie mistake by the newspaper serving the Army’s largest military installation, but I digress.
Officer Todd apparently resigned and accepted a contractor position overseas. That’s not uncommon, especially if you see cuts on the horizon. Officer Munley was apparently a Term DAC and may have been released as explained below.
I need to say something before I continue. Personnel cuts are a sensitive subject and announcements are best left to official spokespersons, in this case DoD, the US Army and Fort Hood. I’m a retired Army officer and DAC who currently works at Fort Hood. The following are my observations of what I see unfolding.
If the KDH staff had done their homework and understood the differences noted above then the reporter might have asked the right questions and written a coherent article that contained some of the following open-source data.
In 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld began shifting the DoD workload from Soldiers to contractors (in specific areas, notably intelligence functions) and from contractors to Army, Air Force, etc., civilians in many others. The idea was that civilians would cost less than contractors and free “trigger pullers” to return to tactical units. From 2005 to 2009, he also shifted the DoD civilian personnel system to a new National Security Personnel System. NSPS was ostensibly a better way to manage human resources, the appeals process, and labor relations system. It included mechanisms to reward excellence with higher pay and “encourage” others (aka deadwood) to resign or retire, especially in federal agencies located in Washington DC.
Secretary Gates slowed this train, reversed NSPS and allowed the Army to revert to the Total Army Personnel Evaluation System. Civilian positions require years to justify, approve and fund and life as a contractor can be tenuous based on the contract bid and award process but employment opportunities for both have still trended up over the past 10 years. Until now.
On August 4, 2011, the Secretary of the Army announced that 8,741 Full Time Equivalent (FTE), or DAC, positions – 8% of the total DAC workforce - would be eliminated no later than September 30, 2012. These and other civilian cuts across DoD are in response to the current budget debate. 83% of the Army cuts are from five organizations; Installation Management Command (IMCOM), Army Material Command (AMC), Office of the Secretary of the Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and US Army Europe (USAREUR).
HQDA actually announced the process to achieve these reductions in a letter dtd July 11, 2011. The letter also specified that contractors could not be hired to fill the resulting gaps. Commands have already identified DAC positions to be cut and HQDA has approved the list. Commanders are now (quietly) cross-leveling faces to spaces and may even relocate some Permanent employees to facilitate retention. Others in Probationary, Temp and Term positions may have their employment terminated. Local CPACs will also selectively offer Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and/or Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP) to further reduce the affected population. If these steps do not achieve the required levels then a Reduction in Force (RIF) will likely follow. Those affected would receive some form of compensation but they’d essentially be fired.
Job losses are not good news, especially in the current economy. DAC and contractor reductions at Fort Hood will likely cause a corresponding decrease in IMCOM garrison support and services capabilities. In response, commanders could task Soldiers to backfill essential functions, including emergency services; ask volunteers to fill non-essential but desired functions; and either scale back or terminate the rest.
After the dust settles, garrison operations at Fort Hood may look a lot like they did in the 1990s. That’s not a show-stopper but it’s the elephant in the room that deserves to be reported.
Still Serving, Army Strong!
Last edited by Stu
on Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.