The Army announced 162 civilian jobs are on the line at Fort Hood.
The Army gave official notice to Congress on July 24 that it is requesting a reduction in force of about 514 Department of the Army civilians at five locations, no later than Jan. 15, said Wayne V. Hall, a Pentagon spokesman.
“Employees affected by (the reduction) will receive separation notices after Congressional notification is completed,” Hall said in an emailed statement. The Army did not release the types of jobs that will be cut.
Congress has 45 days from when then notice was given to stop the cuts, said Bill Parry, executive director of Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.
“Congress could step in and say ‘no, you’re not going to do this,’” he said.
Should Congress do nothing and allow the cuts to go ahead, Sept. 8 is the earliest notifications would go out.
More than 5,300 Department of Army civilians work on post, according to Fort Hood information released in June.
“Fort Hood is aware that a request has been sent to Congress by Department of the Army for a reduction in force for civilian personnel at Fort Hood,” Fort Hood officials said. “Fort Hood is awaiting Congress’s decision.”
A statement from the office of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said while he believes every federal agency can find waste and excess to trim, he’s opposed to DOD bearing the brunt of sequestration cuts. His office did not indicate if he plans to try to stop the layoffs.
“The Pentagon, like every federal agency, must become more efficient, but cuts should be targeted, with the input of commanders and in consultation with Congress, so as not to jeopardize our national security and readiness,” according to the statement from Cornyn’s office.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, said he plans to meet with Fort Hood officials next week and will discuss these cuts.
Fort Hood’s other representatives in Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, did not respond to requests for comment.
Impacted employees will have a minimum of 60 days notice, Hall said.
Jerry Haisler with Central Texas Workforce Solutions said his office intends to work closely with Fort Hood to provide services.
“This is a continuation of that National Emergency Grant. We do have specific services available for civilian layoffs as well as contractors who may have been affected by the budget cuts in the Defense Department,” he said.
Services include help with job searching, resume writing and vocational training. Occupations in demand in Central Texas include health care, information technology, manufacturing and logistics, and welding, Haisler said.
He urges anyone at risk of losing their job to reach out for help.
“Make contact with us and let us talk through your particular situation and we can go from there,” he said.
The Army also offers opportunities to ease involuntary separations, Hall said.
The Army is using Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments, as well as normal attrition combined with hiring controls.
Hall cited across-the-board reductions in federal spending imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which reduced the Army’s budget, as the reason for personnel cuts.
“Given these reductions, the Army must focus on its core tasks: Provide ready land forces to meet combatant commanders’ global requirements, develop leaders for the 21st century, and maintaining the bonds of trust with soldiers and families,” Hall said.
“To ensure readiness at these reduced budget levels, the Army must make the best and most effective use of every dollar provided,” he said. “Earlier reductions and downsizing left many commands with skill imbalances and personnel aligned in an arrangement inadequate to meet the current and future missions. As a result, commands have restructured to meet requirements, as such, employees in abolished billets, without requisite skills, may be subject to (the reduction).”
The reductions at Fort Hood will cost the Army about $20.7 million due to estimates for annual leave payouts, separation pay and unemployment compensation, Hall said. The estimated annual savings to the Army is $12 million.