The Air Force has implemented a civilian hiring freeze, as it prepares for budget cuts that could happen this spring.
The Air Force is facing massive cuts to defense spending known as "sequestration," which are set to go into effect in March if lawmakers fail to agree on how to reduce the deficit. Also, Congress may pass a temporary spending measure in March instead of an appropriations bill for this fiscal year.
The Air Force Times reported that that the force-wide hiring freeze was announced this week in a memo by James Morin, acting under secretary of the Air Force, and Gen. Larry Spencer, the Air Force's vice chief of staff.
The memo also said the Air Force should consider furloughing civilian employees for up to 30 calendar days - or 22 non-consecutive days - but the service hopes Congress takes action to make furloughs unnecessary, according to the memo.
Morin told the Air Force Times this week, "We are, I think, on the doorstep of a substantial and looming national security challenge."
According to the U.S. Air Force website, civilian pay makes up a large share of the Air Force's operating budget.
Among the other measures ordered in the memo:
• "Immediate elimination" of temporary civilian employees and not renewing term hire employees who are not mission-critical.
• Looking for reductions in wartime funding requirements that will not harm wartime operations.
• Cancel all travel that is not mission-critical, such as conferences, staff assistance visits and training seminars.
• Cancel flying "not directly related to readiness," such as air shows, flyovers and familiarization rides.
• Reduce ongoing and scheduled studies not ordered by Congress or mission critical.
• Limit supply purchases to "essential FY13 consumption (e.g. flying hour bench stock)" and stop minor purchases that are not mission-critical, such as furniture, information technology refresh and unit equipment.
• Defer nonemergency facility projects such as carpeting, painting and remodeling but continue with compliance/life/safety projects.
• Try to limit contracted work to fiscal 2013 projects such as base maintenance and custodial contracts.
The Air Force says the temporary hiring freeze applies to all positions that are open to applicants outside the Air Force for permanent, temporary and term vacancies in all appropriations.
Civilian employees make up almost 75 percent of RAFB's total payroll.
Reassignments and promotions within the current work force will continue because they do not affect the current force size.
Rick Brewer in the public relations office at Robins Air Force Base told 13WMAZ, "We are weighing the local impact on the hiring freeze."
In response, retired General Robert McMahon , who now runs the 21st Century, issued a statement urging Congress to act to avoid the effects of sequestration, saying "this hiring freeze only scratches the surface of what Middle Georgia will see if action is not taken by Congress and the President."