The Air Force announced another round of civilian workforce shaping initiatives this week to meet lower funding targets and to continue to bring the workforce in line with skill demands.

Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force for manpower, personnel, and services said “we recognize the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce, but must manage within (Defense) Department fiscal constraints to meet mission needs of the years to come.”

Cox emphasized that these reductions are part of the Air Force’s goal of maintaining a smaller and more streamlined force.

The Air Force will rely heavily on the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP) to meet its workforce goals. VERA offers early retirement and VSIP provides up to $25,000 to employees whose voluntarily separation would save someone from being involuntarily separated.

This action follows on an offer of VERA and VSIP programs in December, 2013. Col. Bryan Kelley, director for AF force management policy, said the procedures for this new round would use the same criteria used in the earlier round. Late this year, employees in targeted occupations and locations will receive surveys to determine interest, he said.

Kelly stressed that the Air Force will use all available voluntary workforce shaping programs in the hope of avoiding involuntary actions. However, he cautioned the Air Force might have to implement Reduction in Force (RIF) to meet its goals, if VERA and VSIP are not enough.

RIF authorities are used to identify employee placement rights to vacancies and possibly waive qualifications, creating additional placement options. The authorities provide flexibility for civilians to be placed at their current installations without losing grade or pay or to be registered in the Priority Placement Program (PPP).  Using RIF procedures would also give installations greater flexibilities to realign and rebalance their civilian workforce.

Addressing an issue of high interest to civilian employees after the events o this past year, Kelly emphasized that furloughs are not being considered to meet budget targets.  Any involuntary separations would be used as a last resort, he said.