Fort Riley To Furlough 2,400 Civilian Workers

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Some 2,400 civilian employees at Fort Riley will be docked 11 days of pay due to federal furloughs.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday his decision to proceed with federal furloughs to manage the budgetary shortfalls facing the military and the nation.

Fort Riley officials will move forward with plans to implement the secretary's mandate, the Garrison Public Affairs Office announced Friday in a press release.

The furloughs will affect workers across a broad spectrum of services on the installation.

"On or about July 19 and lasting until the end of the fiscal year, civilian employees will be furloughed for 11 non-consecutive days," said Col. William Clark, garrison commander of Fort Riley. "We saw this action coming and have spent a lot of time planning for this requirement.

"There are a variety of different commands on Fort Riley and we've worked together to form an integrated plan to accomplish this in a holistic manner."

The press release went on to state that the furloughs will affect workers who are compensated with appropriated funds (AF), or funds financed by annual or periodic appropriations from Congress. Each AF employee will be required to take the 11 non-consecutive days of furlough. Currently, there are no exceptions.

Non-appropriated fund (NAF) employees, paid by funds generated from other sources and not appropriated by Congress, and contractors will not be furloughed.

Colonel Clark says the effects of the furloughs at Fort Riley will be varied across the post. Some services will face negligible affects or remain unaffected while at others patrons can expect diminished levels of service.

"Our patrons and our community can expect a reduction of services to some degree, but with those services linked to life, health and safety, we have found a way to mitigate that, to make sure we maintain our obligations to our patrons. So, for example, if you are coming to Fort Riley and wish to get a new ID card you can expect a longer wait time."

Areas such as air traffic control at Marshall Army Airfield, In-Processing or Housing Services also will be affected by the furloughs.

In general, visitors should expect longer waits or responses from such services during furloughs, officials said.

Most ceremonies or special events will not take place on Fridays.

"The main thing to remember is that Fort Riley and our Army remains committed to taking care of our soldiers, families, civilians and retirees throughout this time period," Clark said.

Originally during sequestration talks, civilian workers faced 22 furlough days. That number was reduced to 14 and then 11.

Besides furloughs, other impacts to the civilian workforce could include: a limited civilian hiring freeze and reduction of support contracts.

During the furloughs, officials say emergency services at Fort Riley's hospital won’t be affected. Twenty-four hour staffing will continue and remain uninterrupted with ambulance services, emergency room, operating room, in-patient services and OBGYN.

Colonel Clark says the fire and police departments as well as child care centers would see staggered furlough days to maintain services.

Fort Riley is also making adjustments when it comes to soldiers' training in the wake of federal budget cuts and the changing war climate.

During a roundtable discussion with members of the media in March, Fort Riley's senior commander Brigadier General Don MacWillie said Fort Riley will be "slowing down" ground and air training and cutting back on live fire exercises in the field for units without a deployment on the horizon.

More training will be done on state-of-the-art virtual simulators at the Mission Training Complex that recreate realistic battlefield scenarios and allow for more repetitions of exercises so they can try different techniques, procedures and tactics.

As a result of fiscal challenges, there will be less discretionary funding but Fort Riley's senior leaders stress that the readiness of soldiers to deploy and support of military families will not be compromised. Soldiers will not see any pay cuts.

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