The move, which took effect Aug. 9, is in line with the service's commitment to stay within current requested spending levels, according to Air Force officials. "We are operating in a very challenging fiscal environment and are focused on meeting mission requirements with a reduced budget," said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "We are mindful of the potential impacts of budget constraints on our civilian force and their families, which is why we are seeking to reduce the need for involuntary measures."
On top of the freeze, the Air Force says it will trim its cadre of temporary and term employees as well as implement the Voluntary Separation Incentive and the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority programs. "We will do our utmost to provide timely, candid communication on specific efforts as details are finalized," Jones said.
The Air Force employs 146,660 full-time permanent civilians, according to spokeswoman Capt. Mary Danner-Jones. The goal of the hiring freeze is to "stem projected growth of billets, not bodies, by about 4,000," she told Government Executive. "VSIP and VERA would be targeted to strategically determine where we need to have the bodies to complete our mission," she said.