WASHINGTON – The Air Force’s plan to terminate more than 1,000 civilian employees is an ill-conceived action that will end up costing taxpayers more money in the long run, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.
“If the goal is to increase costs to taxpayers while eroding our military readiness, the Air Force will certainly succeed,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.
In a Jan. 6 announcement, the Air Force said it has identified more than 1,000 civilian jobs that will be cut through a mandatory reduction-in-force (RIF). The cuts will occur through early April. Some civilian employees currently working in those jobs could be eligible to move into other available positions, although that is by no means guaranteed.
The Air Force says it’s laying off employees to meet congressionally required cuts in the size of the civilian workforce. However, it appears that none of the work currently performed by these employees is going away.
“Those employees left behind will be asked to do more with less, but that will go only so far. These cuts will force the Air Force to rely on more costly contractors and military personnel to do work that civilian employees can do for two to three times less,” Cox said.
The Air Force has imposed an arbitrary cap on the size of the civilian workforce, without regard to the effect on budgets and continuing workloads. This is occurring across the Department of Defense, in addition to arbitrary workforce cuts imposed by Congress.
“The best way to cut overall personnel costs is to increase the number of civilian employees, because they are cheaper than service members and contractors. This is also a great way to hire retiring service members and other veterans,” Cox said.
Yet the Air Force and Congress are ignoring this advice, which comes from the Congressional Budget Office and DoD’s own former senior officials.
“By slashing the civilian workforce without slashing the work, the Air Force will have to hire more costly service contractors and require active duty military personnel to perform non-combat jobs instead of focusing on their core military mission.”