Growing the government? [Guest post by Tim H]
I work for what is now called Fleet and Family Readiness (FFR) program. There are two distinct funded entities within the Moral, Welfare and Recreation portion of the FFR, Appropriated Funds (AP) which include Fitness Centers, the Liberty Program (single service member support) and Child & Youth Services and Non Appropriated Funds (NAF) which includes dining establishments, entertainment, travel and tours and outdoor recreational activities to name a few. While I have seen the administrators try to push business practices into the AP side of the house being that these are Appropriated Funding entities with set directives it has not been an easy task. The NAF side is run more like a business as it has to generate new funding in order to fulfill its mission.
As the terms apply AP is part of the Navy budget and NAF must generate its own funding. The funding generated by NAF programs is turned around to improve the NAF facilities, pay for headline entertainment, discount trips and tours and a host of other things to keep service members and their families happy while deployed overseas.
Most of the important AP and NAF positions are filled by hiring personnel from stateside. These employees fill positions that require institutional knowledge of the work they are hired for. In other words they need to have worked in the field for quite awhile to be of any real use to a command. As with any interview conducted mostly via phone and email there have been some who can interview well in that setting but do not have the right skill set or aptitude for the position. I can’t speak for positions outside my knowledge but I would guess that the base commanders are aware of this and the sharp ones will keep positions gapped (unfilled) until they feel they have found the right person.
Since 2009 there has been a push to rotate out GS employees who are stateside hires not just within the FFR program but all GS positions at a command.
Also in 2009 I started seeing references to laws regarding making it easier to transfer certifications is a plus, this is something the states should be doing for all citizens and not just for spouses of military personnel.
Last month I caught this Navy news broadcast regarding a speech Mrs. Obama had given in Mayport, FL., which mentioned that last year 28% of all federal hiring was of veterans and military spouses. If you are interested you can go to the Pentagon Channel and then to Briefings/Speeches Full you can hear Mrs. Obama’s speech at Mayport, Fl. The date on it is 22 Aug 2012.
Of note is that Mrs. Obama repeatedly refers to the president as “my husband” throughout the entire speech and touts that 125,000 veterans and spouses have been hired or trained without actually mentioning what the ratios were between those hired and those trained.
At about the same time I was forwarded information that the Department of Defence (DoD) directive NUMBER 1400.25, Volume 1230 July 26, 2012, DoD Civilian Personnel Management System had been updated regarding hiring practices and the main points appear to be:
4. POLICY. It is DoD policy that:
b. To the extent permitted by law and applicable international agreements, maximum use shall be made of locally available and eligible candidates (i.e., military spouses, family members of military and DoD civilian personnel, and U.S. citizens who are otherwise eligible) when filling vacant positions.
g. DoD Components shall give preference to family members of military and civilian personnel in accordance with section 1784 of title 10, United States Code (Reference (h)), Volumes 315 and 1232 of this Instruction, and applicable international agreements that give preference to, require employment of, or restrict employment of certain individuals, such as dual nationals and individuals who are ordinarily resident.
It should be noted that hiring preference for veterans and military spouses are nothing new though the preference was only able to be used once. There is also no shortage of positions at most commands here in Japan available to veterans or military spouses though those jobs normally only pay between $8.00 to $10.00 an hour.
I would not normally be notified regarding changes to hiring practices a friend is caught up in the next provision of the instruction which is:
h. Civilian employment in the competitive service in foreign areas shall be limited to a period of 5 continuous years unless interrupted by at least 2 years of physical presence in the United States or non foreign area. This policy serves to increase employment opportunities for military spouses and family members and developmental opportunities for employees in the United States, periodically renew the knowledge and competencies of the overseas workforce, including familiarity with current strategic goals, enhance the interoperability of employees, and promote a joint perspective in the workforce.
The 5 year rule is not new either previously commanders were given the discretion to decide if the need of the command was better served by keeping key individuals rather than turning those personnel over.
In 2009 we started seeing the 5 year rule strictly enforced here in Japan. When commanders and high ranking civilians started asking how they were supposed to keep facilities and programs running they were simply told new blood was required. At this time a major push to regionalize the Navy commands in Japan got underway which created quite a few top end Government Service positions at the regional level and adversely affected key position hiring since the positions (billets) were being moved to the regional level as well.
In 2010 the Regional Personnel Director toured all the bases to explain the reason the region was pushing the 5 year rule. That explanation can be boiled down to most all positions within the FFR could be filled by military spouses. A twofer if you will, given the obvious alignment with the Obama administrations Joining Forces and the Region wanting to grow. This is because the savings realized by filling the local positions with military spouses could then be used to hire more personnel at the regional level.
While one could argue that the 5 year rule makes sense, given that the apparent goal is to fill all the local positions with military spouses (as veterans would be applying from stateside) the loss of institutional knowledge may well lead to declining services from an FFR point of view. Since typical rotations for service members is 18 month, 24 months or 36 months and the military spouse is tied to the military member then they will rotate out before they understand the job they are doing or just after they learn what the job is about.
Those GS personnel affected by the 5 year rule are not leaving government service unless they choose to. They will be placed in what is called the Priority Placement Program so they will be moved to other government jobs that may or may not be in the DoD.
Since the current GS personnel will remain in government employ, and as the military spouses fill then vacate the local positions and return to the states, likely to look for another government position and new spouses fill these vacated positions it seems to me that the entire project is nothing more than a large scale grow the government with the military as a cloak.
The links below are just something that I found while trying to locate the actual hiring numbers for the Fed last year.