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The shore-side Navy is shedding as many as 745 civilians, or 5 percent of its workforce, over the next year or so to make up for a dramatic funding shortfall, but officials say cuts will likely have “marginal” impacts on sailors.
Navy Installations Command, based in Washington, D.C., says the cuts will not affect quality-of-life and direct operation support programs on which sailors and their families worldwide depend. But the belt-tightening may be felt in other areas. Naval Support Activity Crane, Ind., for example, is shuttering one of its three fire companies. Fitness centers, lodging and base security have all lost personnel because of the sequester cuts, amounting to $4 billion this year alone, and will continue to operate at these levels while a hiring freeze is in effect.
The installations command, which oversees 11 Navy regions, had its fiscal 2014 budget slashed by $600 million. A previous hiring freeze and retirement incentives didn’t sufficiently reduce personnel costs, which is why officials ordered layoffs that are expected to save $65 million a year.
“The [reduction in force] is a necessary course of action to meet current funding requirements and constraints,” said Jennifer LaTorre, the director of total force manpower at CNIC. “People assigned to positions impacted by the RIF will be provided opportunities for employment.”
A host of programs won’t be affected, officials said. They include: transition assistance classes, child and youth programs, family support programs, voting assistance and base galleys. Family support programs were shielded from staff cuts, and the sexual assault prevention and response program is continuing to hire counselors.
High-tech solutions might help.
“The direct impact on services will be reduced through technology insertion, particularly in the area of automated access control,” LaTorre said in an email, referring to automated vehicle gates and pedestrian turnstiles.
While the Navy was expecting to roll out several automatic gates at installations in the Northwest this month, this “low-man concept” did not necessarily mean jobs would be cut, officials have said.
LaTorre’s responses to Navy Times’ questions, submitted via email, did not elaborate on what services would be affected.
CNIC officials were unable to provide a breakout of the layoffs by program or region; the June 19 press release said the exact number of layoffs would be determined by how many employees agree to separate or retire early.
Civilians who are laid off will be eligible for job assistance, including counseling, job search help and re-training.
“This action is not taken lightly, but is part of a conscious, risk-based approach to future shore capabilities that are aligned with the Navy Mission,” said Vice. Adm. William French, the head of CNIC, in the June 19 release. “I am committed to ensuring that we do all we can to assist those people directly impacted by this action.”