Pentagon Reports on Cuts

DoD found new jobs for more than 9,000 civilian employees facing layoffs last year.

Current and future employees will be governed by a smaller manual and automated systems that slash regulations and streamline personnel management.

These are among accomplishments recorded in an upcoming annual report by DoD's Office of Civilian Personnel Policy. The report lists the achievements of the policy office and its field agency, the Civilian Personnel Management Service.

"By any measure, [fiscal] 1996 was a banner year for [the policy/management team]," Diane Disney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said in the report's introduction. "This report summarizes some of their noteworthy accomplishments."

In fiscal 1996, the policy/management team sought to humanely manage downsizing, streamline personnel management, improve services and enhance labor-management relations, Disney said. According to the report:

  • The DoD civilian work force dropped to 813,000 by Sept. 30, 1996; that's 36,000 less than a year before and 304,000 fewer than at the beginning of the drawdown in 1990. DoD must cut another 85,000 positions by the end of fiscal 2001. Buyouts accounted for 17,332 cuts, and more than 1,500 employees voluntarily retired early.
  • A nonfederal hiring incentive begun last year encourages private employers and local governments to hire surplus DoD workers. The incentive provides up to $10,000 for retraining and relocating an employee from an installation affected by base realignment and closure after the individual has been on the new payroll at least a year.
  • DoD also received authority to allow surplus employees -- as well as employees separated by reductions in force -- to continue health insurance coverage 18 months. Employees at RIF sites could receive severance pay if they volunteered to take the place of another employee facing RIF separation. The fiscal 1997 authorization extended voluntary RIFs through fiscal 2001.
  • To better manage remaining and future DoD employees, a new civilian personnel manual under development reduces regulations 77 percent. Meanwhile, the policy/management team cut information systems from 10 to two (Defense Civilian Personnel Data System and Defense Business Management System). The new systems will help improve the ratio of personnel specialists to total civilian employees from 1:61 to 1:100.
Regionalizing civilian personnel offices will save DoD $182 million a year. Twenty-three regional service centers will manage actions that don't require face-to-face meetings between employees and personnel specialists. More than 300 customer support units and installation satellite offices will provide all other customer services.

By the end of fiscal 1996, locations were selected for all but one regional service center and 12 centers were open for business.

Leadership training opportunities expanded with establishment of the Defense Leadership and Management Program. The Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces recommended DoD prepare senior civilians for greater roles in national security policies and programs. When training begins in fiscal 1998, the program will be open to 3,000 GS-14s and above responsible for "people, policy, programs and other resources of broad significance" or that primarily support joint warfighting capability. The program authorizes positions temporarily vacated for the training to be backfilled.

The policy/management team also sought to make life easier for its civilians, developing a telecommuting initiative and simplifying overseas health care.

A pilot project launched in May 1996 encourages all DoD components to test telecommuting. A central fund helps underwrite costs associated with using General Service Administration telecommuting centers.

Employees based overseas gained access to the Foreign Service Health Benefit Plan as an alternative source for health insurance. In addition, Blue Cross and Blue Shield will provide clearer instructions on how and where to obtain care overseas, issue identification cards in four languages that certify Blue Cross/Blue Shield membership, and set up a 24-hour, multilanguage hot line to answer questions and verify coverage.

Negotiations with the Office of Personnel Management established military medical treatment facilities as preferred provider organizations. This measure will reduce out-of-pocket and co-payment costs for those who get their health care from the military. Also, DoD will reimburse employees for expenses incurred traveling from a remote location to get health care.

Employees injured on the job aren't costing DoD as much as they used to. For the second straight year, DoD reduced its injury compensation bill while improving the way it handled field inquiries. DoD's bill for injury compensation fell $6.1 million in fiscal 1996.

The department avoided an estimated $8 million in costs by mediating or otherwise resolving more than 700 discrimination complaints. The Office of Complaint Investigations developed a course to train all investigators in mediation.

The Defense Partnership Council published three source documents for developing labor-management partnerships at military installations in the United States. The council also established a mentor bank of 80 teams to assist partnerships and trained more than 25,000 supervisors, employees and union officials in on-site facilitation and dispute resolution.

Internationally, the policy/management team negotiated labor agreements with Portugal, Germany and Korea and addressed labor problems in Turkey, Italy and Japan.

For more information about the report, call (703) 695-2012 or DSN 225-2012.

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