Shutdown has wide-reaching effects at Robins

Telegraph staffOctober 1, 2013 

For thousands of civilian workers at Robins Air Force Base who were sent home Tuesday, it’s now hurry up and wait.

About 4,000 employees reported for work as usual Tuesday, but they were headed back home within four hours after receiving furlough notices, thanks to the government shutdown.

“Everybody had to come into work (Tuesday) until they got their notices, and then there was an orderly shutdown” of base areas affected, said Faye Banks-­Anderson, who works in the Robins public affairs office.

Workers were told to follow news developments about the funding impasse in Washington, she said, and once the shutdown is over, they will be getting recalls from their supervisors.

“They will stay out” until Congress approves a funding measure, she said.

Plenty of workers at Robins are still on the job. They include “life and limb” employees vital to base safety -- security officers and firefighters, for example, as well as those who work on planes.

A statement sent to base workers said in part: “While we’re hopeful the budget uncertainty will be resolved, we’re currently preparing as many as 4,000 members of our workforce to be furloughed, which would occur if there is a lapse in appropriations. This includes making the employees aware of the administrative procedures associated with this type of furlough, including the timing of those actions. Military personnel would continue in a normal duty status. ... A furlough would put severe hardships on an already stressed workforce.”

The shutdown also was affecting other missions.

At the 116th Air Control Wing, 400 Air National Guard personnel who are employed as full-time civil service technicians, are affected by the furloughs, said Col. Kevin Clotfelter, commander of the 116th Air Control Wing.

The technicians assist with operation, maintenance, logistics and training for Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System E-8C aircraft, which track ground vehicles and transmit surveillance photos.

“All technicians are an important part of our wing and mission,” said Master Sgt. Roger Parsons, spokesman for the 116th ACW. “The J-STARS mission will continue, and any of our personnel who are deployed will continue reporting for duty and will be paid.”

Parsons published a story earlier this year highlighting the contributions of these civil service technicians. A guardsman quoted in the story shared how he “jumped at the chance” for the position, to serve the military full-time and stay in the community where he has roots.

Parsons said the employment of full-time Georgia guardsmen results in millions of dollars flowing into the local economy.

On the Air National Guard website, a headline updated Tuesday promised guidance on furloughs. The page includes a National Guard Bureau seal but does not include any information.

Impact at Robins far-reaching

Robins projected that a government shutdown would impact these installation support activities:

• The Exchange: Open. However, some transactions could be delayed, such as the purchase of a firearm (which requires a background check or other administrative actions).

• Civil engineering: Only emergency service requests involving the safety of life and protection of property.

• Civilian personnel: Closed (Includes its Staffing, Labor Relations, and Employee Relations offices, and work on disciplinary matters); reduced staff in the Manpower Office.

• Communications: Closed, or reduced staff.

• Comptroller: Reduced staff (including civilian pay and disbursing office).

• Equal Opportunity: Closed.

• Force Support: Child Development Center, possible reduced staff; Youth Center: School-age program -- open; Youth Program -- closed; Health and Wellness Center -- closed; Fitness Assessment Cell -- normal operations; Gyms -- normal operations; Heritage Club/ITT/Pizza Depot -- normal operations; Airman and Family Readiness Center -- closed, although two military employees will be available from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to provide limited services (deployment and re-integration briefs, Air Force Aid Society/casualty assistance, and Information & Referral Services); Base Restaurant, Quick Turn & Mobile Trucks -- normal operations.

• Judge Advocate / Legal Services: Most divisions closed, or reduced staff.

• History office: Closed.

• Medical: Medical Clinic -- normal operations; Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office -- normal operations.

• Museum of Aviation: reduced staff.

• Photo lab: closed.

To contact writer Oby Brown, call 744-4396. To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.

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