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Hill AFB Sequestration & Furlough FAQs

The following guidance on sequestration and administrative furloughs is provided for managers, supervisors and employees. Questions and answers are generally specific to Hill Air Force Base and will be updated as needed. For the latest Hill news and information, visit www.hill.af.mil.

SEQUESTRATION:

1. What is sequestration?
Answer: The term "sequestration" refers to the mandatory reduction in federal budgetary resources of all budget accounts that have not been exempted by statute. Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as amended by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, across-the-board reductions occurred 1 Mar 2013.

2. What changes on 1 Oct 2013; will this continue? Answer: Unless altered by law, sequestration continues as a 10-year-long, step-down process in funding. There are automatic reductions each fiscal year. The administrative furlough is a decision the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) made to meet sequestration requirements this fiscal year. It is unknown how the Department of Defense (DOD) will handle the cuts for the remaining nine years.

3. How does sequestration impact Hill AFB? Answer: Sequestration impacts all areas of the Team Hill mission. Impacts range from reduced budgets and spending across the board to the furlough of approximately 11,000 appropriated fund DOD civilian employees.

4. What actions has the Air Force taken to prepare for sequestration? Answer: Actions were taken in January to reduce spending that included: 1. a civilian hiring freeze (though we have been allowed to continue hiring some positions such as hard-to-fill positions and mission critical positions); 2. the release of non-mission critical term/temp employees (no Hill AFB employees have been released to date); 3. canceling of non-mission critical travel; 4. limiting supply purchases; and 5. postponing of non-emergency facility maintenance. Team Hill's leaders will continue to work with respective higher headquarters to implement additional actions needed to ensure the base's missions are accomplished while responding to the ongoing budgetary constraints.

5. Have facilities maintenance projects been deferred at Hill AFB? Answer: All non-emergency facility sustainment has been deferred. Only projects or work orders that are absolutely necessary due to risk of life, safety, significant property damage and shutdown of mission critical operations will continue. The installation always has more projects than funding. It's standard practice to defer those with lesser priority. The base has have a disciplined prioritization and vetting process by which projects are executed. The base will continue to exercise that process.

6. What support is going away or reduced? Answer: One of the first things people will notice is most of the base buildings are a little warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. As a result of furlough, people will also see changes to the hours of operations at a number of facilities and services including the gates, medical clinic and with mail delivery just to name a few. People may also see reduced or delayed services or even the complete closures of offices on furlough Fridays. A list of changes to base services can be found here.

7. What are the building's temperatures going to be set at? Answer: To save on energy the air conditioning will have adjusted set points from 72 to 76 degrees. In addition the air conditioning will be turned on a couple of weeks later than normal. Each day the air conditioning is turned off it saves more than $12,000.

8. Which buildings are excluded from set point adjustments? Answer: Some facilities, such as the medical clinic and child development facilities must be excluded from air conditioning restrictions. Other facilities occupied by reimbursable customers such as some maintenance complex, supply organization, non-appropriated fund entities, Airmen's dormitory and housing areas will be exempt as well.

BASE SERVICES:

9. How will the Hill AFB Commissary be affected? Answer: Beginning July 8 through September 30, the Commissary will be closed on Mondays. Because the planning for sequestration is fluid and subject to change, Commissary patrons can quickly find out about any changes to their store's operating schedule by using www.commissaries.com. Hill's commissary is not alone. The decision to close commissaries on Mondays impacts nearly all commissaries with only a few overseas exceptions - commissaries where there are sufficient local national employees to remain open. The DeCA Headquarters will also close on Mondays, as part of the furlough. 

10. Why close the Commissary on Mondays? Answer: Monday is one of the slowest sales days. This helps minimize the impact on customers. Commissary customers will still be able to enjoy the same selection of products, savings, sales, and services during the days the store is open. Customers can easily find out about changes to their store's operating schedule at www.commissaries.com. Use the "Locations" link, then "Alphabetical Listing," to find your store and then check out the "Local Store Information" link.

11. How will the Hill AFB Base Exchange be affected? Answer: The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on Hill does not foresee any changes to its daily operations.

12. What will be the impact at the Military Personnel Center (i.e. ID cards, other services, etc.)? Answer: There are no significant impacts to these services.

13. How will the Hill AFB Fitness Centers be affected? Answer: The Fitness Centers will be open with slightly reduced hours of operation. A list of other changes to base services can be found here.

14. How will The Landing and other base restaurants be affected? Answer: Base restaurants such as Crosswinds and Runway Rubys will be closed on Furlough Fridays. The Landing will operate normally and the AAFES food court will remain open as normal. A list of changes to base services can be found here.

15. How will other MWR functions be affected (i.e. Hobby Shop, Arts & Crafts, etc.)? Answer: Many of these functions will reduce their hours of operation. A list of changes to base services can be found here.

HEALTHCARE:

16. How will the Hill AFB Clinic be affected? Answer: Care to military members, retirees and family members is an absolute priority and will be preserved to the maximum extent possible. The Military Treatment Facility (MTF) will be open with slightly reduced hours of operation. This includes the Pharmacy. A list of changes to base services can be found here.

CHILDCARE:

17. How will the Hill AFB Child Development Center/School Age (CDC/SAP) Program be affected? Answer: Quality childcare and the safety of the children who attend the base's CDC/SAP is a top priority. A number of options are being offered to adequately accommodate r families who use the CDC/SAP while also abiding to the continuing budget restraints. The CDS/SAP are offering the following options during the furlough period. Option 1. Bring your child as normal and pay your normal weekly rate. Option 2. Indicate your furlough day and do not bring your child on that day, which will result in your weekly fee being credited by 1/5 of normal weekly rate. Option 3. Fees may be reassessed by bringing the first full furlough pay stubs to determine if the fee category dropped. If so, fees will be adjusted accordingly and credited back to the week the furlough went into effect through the duration of the furlough. Additionally, should care be needed on your designated furlough day, it can be provided on a space available basis. The cost is based upon the hourly rate for the existing or newly established fee category. The programs will be open normal hours, 5 days per week.

EDUCATION:

18. What is status of military tuition assistance and education opportunities for military members and civilians? Answer: Military tuition assistance was initially stopped in early March 2013; however, with the passage for H.B. 933, which funded DOD through the end of FY13, the services reinstated that assistance for military members. The Air Force continues to offer developmental education programs for its military and civilian members (i.e. SOS, ACSC, etc.). These programs are critical to preparing personnel to anticipate and successfully meet challenges across the wide range of military operations. Furthermore, developmental education positively impacts retention efforts, and the Air Force will continue to care for and invest in its people.

MILITARY HOUSING:

19. Will the privatized housing on Hill AFB be affected? Answer: The President has indicated he will exercise his authority under the Budget Control Act to exempt military personnel funding, including Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), from sequestration. There should be no impact since BAH remains fully funded. Since the housing has been privatized, the contractor will continue to provide the same level of service and office hours as they currently do.

AERIAL SUPPORT/DEMOS:

20. Will Hill AFB support an open house/air show this year? What about next year? Answer: A Hill AFB open house/air show is not planned for 2013. Both DOD and the Air Force directed the cancellation of all flying at installation open houses/air shows. Open houses can proceed only if they are restricted to static displays involving local aircraft and personnel and do not use appropriated funds to cover additional event costs. The community has expressed interest in holding an open house/air show in 2014 and the base is currently looking at different options that would allow such an event to occur.

21. The Air Force has said that flyovers, orientation flights, etc., were conducted as part of training. Why can't this kind of aerial support continue if you're continuing training? Answer: While the recruiting and public awareness made possible by aerial demonstrations, open houses/airshows and flyovers conducted while on training missions are invaluable, we are simply prioritizing our resources and flying hours. These activities are temporarily suspended to focus our resources on higher-priority sorties.

FURLOUGHS:

22. What is a furlough? Answer: Furlough places an employee in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of work, reduction or lack of funds, or other non-disciplinary reason. Regrettably, under sequestration unpaid furloughs of valued appropriated fund civilian workforce will begin the week of July 8. Most employees will be furloughed one day per week for the last 11 weeks of the fiscal year.

23. How many Hill AFB civilians will be furloughed? Answer: The DOD directed furlough will impact approximately 11,000 appropriated fund DoD civilian employees at Hill AFB. The furlough is predicted to be 11 days from July 8 until the end of the fiscal year, which will result in about a 20 percent loss in pay for civilians impacted during the furlough period. Military personnel are exempt from furloughs by law.

24. How will furlough affect sick and annual leave? Answer: When an employee reaches 80 hours of non-pay status in a leave year, the employee will not earn annual or sick leave for that pay period. The "clock" re-starts and the employee begins earning sick and annual leave again until another 80 hours of non-pay status is reached. A list of DOD Furlough FAQs can be reviewed here.

25. How does furlough affect TSP withholdings? Is there any guidance to tell people specific things they should be doing or at least suggestions? Answer: It's a personal decision based on an individual's financial situation. There are two resources that can help make an informed decision: 1. visit the AFMC sequestration and furlough website here and review the frequently asked questions on the topic; and 2. the Thrift Board has published a fact sheet addressing questions regarding TSP contributions if employees are furloughed as a result of sequestration. It also details alternatives for accessing individual TSP funds should an employee face a financial hardship. The fact sheet can be accessed here.

26. Are full time employees considered full time during the furlough? Answer: Yes.

27. What happens to employees federal holidays that occur during the furlough period? Answer: There is one federal holiday during the furlough period -- Labor Day - Monday, July 2. The general rule is that an employee is entitled to pay for a holiday so long as he or she is in a pay status on either the workday preceding a holiday or the workday following a holiday. The employee is paid for the holiday based on the presumption that, but for the holiday, the employee would have worked. A list of DOD Furlough FAQs can be reviewed here.

28. Can we use our "use or lose" leave instead of regular leave? Answer: No. During an administrative furlough, an employee may not substitute paid leave or any other form of paid time off to substitute for furlough time.

29. Can we work overtime or earn comp time while on furlough? Answer: No. Overtime and Compensatory Time may not be used to offset the impact of the furlough.

30. What will be the savings to DOD of the furlough? Answer: The planned FY13 civilian furlough is estimated to save DOD nearly $1.8 billion.

31. Is it possible furloughs could be ended early? Or is it a final decision once furloughs have started? Answer: Yes.

32. What kind of pressure will be put on employees to do 40 hours in 32 hours; same amount of work in 32-hour week? Answer: Managers and supervisors will have to adjust expectations and throughput based on available resources.The base cannot compromise the safety and health of the workforce to meet goals based on a different set of resources.

33. Will leave be minimized during furlough? Can we take annual leave during the furlough period? Answer: The process for taking annual leave does not change. Employees will request leave and supervisors will assess and approve based on mission requirements. If an employee's leave includes furlough time/day(s), the furlough takes precedence and the employee will not be paid for the furlough time/day(s).

34. How many Hill AFB civilians will be exempt from a furlough? Answer: Very few employees will be exempt. Exempt employees primarily include those who work in Foreign Military Sales, the Child Development Center, and the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office.

35. Does the proposal to furlough civilians mean they perform less critical roles compared with military personnel? Answer: No. Civilian personnel are vital to the Team Hill's mission success. The fact DOD is implementing civilian furloughs without cuts to military pay or benefits are the result of two factors. First, the President directed Military Personnel Accounts would be exempted from sequestration. Second, the abrupt, arbitrary and inflexible nature of the sequestration cuts limit DOD's ability to manage required spending reductions in a way that protects the primary mission without taking severe actions.

36. Is this a one-time deal or is furlough another possibility next year? Answer: Sequestration is a 10-year process; no one knows for certain. Each year has automatic sequestration reductions built in. Part of the difficulty DOD experienced this year is being asked to take this cut well into the fiscal year instead of having time to plan for the cut. If there is a silver lining, it's that DOD would have more time to plan for the out years. The bottom line is, unless the law is altered, both sequestration and the possibility of furlough exist.

OTHER IMPACTS:

37. What are my legal rights concerning mortgage payments should I fall behind? Do I have protection from foreclosure? Answer: Outside of foreclosure protections already in place (i.e. SCRA; Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2013), there are no special protections for furloughed government employees. Furloughed employees should contact individual lenders for case-specific guidance. A list of helpful financial resources during furlough can be found here.

38. Is the Air Force still conducting major exercises and operations on its test and training ranges? Answer: Yes. DOD will continue to look for ways to sustain key pre-deployment exercises and keep its ranges open. At this point, the Utah Test and Training Range (also known as, the UTTR) will remain open for the rest of the fiscal year.

DEPOT MAINTENANCE:

39. What impact is sequestration having on depot maintenance? Answer: The Air Force Working Capital Funds are experiencing severe impacts caused by cuts in the depot maintenance and flying hour programs. The estimated mission impact to the Ogden Air Logistics Complex (OO-ALC) equates to about 440,000 hours in production lost. The reduction to the flying hour cuts is still unknown. There is also a reduction in commodities production, including avionics, landing gear, etc. With the decrease in depot operations, aircraft availability and mission capable rates will drop and some aircraft could simply be grounded.

FLYING HOURS PROGRAM FOR HILL AFB FIGHTER WINGS:

40. One of the actions of sequestration involves reducing flying hours for squadrons across the total Combat Air Forces. Which squadrons within the 388th Fighter Wing will be affected by this reduction? Answer: Approximately one-quarter of Air Combat Command's (ACC) active duty squadrons and active duty pilots in Active Associate units have stopped flying. The resources from these grounded units will enable units deployed or preparing to deploy to maintain currency and flight operations. The 4th Fighter Squadron stopped flying returning from a deployment in the Pacific earlier this year. The 421st Fighter Squadron will fly at the Basic Mission Capable (BMC) rate through the remainder of the fiscal year.

41. How much will be saved by only flying one squadron at the BMC rate and the other not flying at all? Answer: There will be a significant amount reduced on the consumption of consumables including aircraft equipment and gas. The fighter wing will expend only what is required to execute the current flying mission.

42. Can pilots transfer to another squadron that is flying? Answer: No. Pilots operate under the needs of the Air Force and are not at liberty to select which squadron they will fly with.

43. Is it the fuel costs that are driving the stand-down? Answer: There is a cost associated to fly each F-16 aircraft and while there is a certain level of cost associated with the fuel, there is also the cost of maintaining each F-16 with parts, gear, etc.

44. Why will the 421st Fighter Squadron fly at BMC and the 4th Fighter Squadron be grounded? Answer: The requirements for Combat Mission Ready (CMR) and BMC forces are driven by combatant commands. ACC continues to work with combatant commanders (COCOMs) to prioritize missions, but the units currently flying aircrew at CMR levels cover a wide range of essential operations, including: approved named operations; missions or deployments ordered by the Secretary of Defense; nuclear deterrence operations; support for travel by the president, vice president, or COCOMs; and continuity of government or operations missions. The number of aircrews ACC has to maintain at CMR status is an indication of the extent to which COCOMs and the nation depend on the capabilities combat airpower provides.

45. How will the decrease in flying hours impact the Reserve Unit (the 419th Fighter Wing) that the 388th is integrated with? Answer: The impact will be minimal. The 419th Fighter Wing's flying hour program will only be about 20 hours less per month than those flown prior to sequestration.

46. How will the 388th aircrew and maintainers execute their jobs with a reduction in flying hours? Answer: There has been a shift to ground training, including the use of flight simulators, within existing contracts, and academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of the pilot's aircraft. Aircrews also complete ground training as funding allows, conduct non-flying exercises and study mission-related material and guidance. Maintainers complete upgrade training and conduct scheduled inspections and maintenance to the extent possible given budget impacts in other areas, such as stockage of spare parts.

47. In simple terms, what does CMR or training units below CMR mean? Answer: ACC recognizes two levels of readiness for Airmen within the Combat Air Force. The high level is Combat Mission Ready (CMR), which means the individual has completed the amount of various types of training needed to be considered qualified and proficient in all aspects of the unit's combat mission. The number and duration of training activities necessary to be rated CMR varies from aircraft to aircraft. The lower level is Basic Mission Capable (BMC), which equates to the minimum level of training required to make the individual qualified in some aspects of the unit mission. Maintaining BMC allows an aviator to "spin up" to CMR with the minimum amount of additional training and associated expense.

48. How long will this reduction in flying hours last? Answer: Under the current budget environment, this execution of tiered readiness will continue for the remainder of FY13. The future environment is pending budget decisions at the highest level of leadership, but even a six-month stand-down of units will have significant long-term, multi-year impacts on operational readiness. Additional funds beyond the normal budget will be required to return grounded units to fully mission ready status, while maintaining the rest of the force at combat-ready status.

49. Are there any major impacts to the 419th Fighter Wing? Answer: Because the military personnel appropriations are exempted from sequestration by the administration, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is able to continue funding Reserve training with little negative impact (monthly UTA weekends and Annual Tours, etc. will continue as scheduled. Also, Air Reserve Technicians (ARTS) and Department of the Air Force civilians who are also Reservists may be allowed to perform Inactive Duty Training (IDT)/Annual Tour (AT) while in a civilian furlough status.

50. Will 419th Fighter Wing pilots be affected by budget cuts the same way as 388th Fighter Wing pilots (i.e. relying on sim/academic training to maintain proficiency, etc.)? Answer: Impacts to 419th Fighter Wing flying hours will be minimal than flown prior to sequestration.

CONTRACTS:

51. What Hill AFB contracts and support activities will be cut or reduced (or are being looked at to be cut or reduced)? Answer: The base has looked at its service and support contracts for reductions to generate needed savings in the current year (janitorial services, grounds keeping, etc.) and deferred some contract actions until FY14.

52. Will contractor pay be on time? Answer: Most contracts are fully funded at the time of award, so sequestration will have no impact on these contracts or on the ability of contractors to pay employees. Contracting officers will recommend contract changes depending upon the size and nature of the affected contracts. Once a contract is signed and executed, the intent is to continue to make payments. Sequestration reduces the authority to obligate, but generally does not affect the ability to make payments.

53. Do contractors still report to work, especially if their government supervisors are not present? Answer: Contractors must conform to both state and federal law when adjusting to changes in business conditions. Barring any changes to existing support contracts, contractors will still report to work.