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October 2, 2013

Moody manages government shutdown

VALDOSTA — Standing in front of a field of retired fighter planes, Col. Steven E. Ramer informed local media of the impact the government shutdown will have on Moody AFB.

Vice Cmdr. Col. Steven Ramer said, “As you all know, due to a lapse of appropriations for continuing resolution last night, from Congress, we had to initiate a government shutdown. Here at Moody, we have to take actions immediately based on guidance coming down from the Secretary of the Air Force, and the Secretary of Defense.”

Last week, Moody administrators began planning for a furlough. Ramer said, “We have guidance from our higher headquarters that told us at the end of last week to start planning for a possible civilian furlough based on the lack of appropriations.”

They notified the workers at risk of being furloughed at the end of last week, but did not implement the furlough until Tuesday morning.

Discussing the tough decision of whom to furlough, Ramer said, “Right now we have initiated actions to furlough all civilian employees that are not directly related to national security. The challenge with this is all of our civilian employees and military members are critical to our mission. So we had to make some hard choices, and those who are not actively supporting down-range operations or national security options are going to have to be furloughed.”

Air Force bases, nationwide, furloughed their “non-mission critical

positions,” said Ramer. On Moody AFB, 450 people are immediately affected by the furlough; 250 have been placed on emergency, no-notice, non-pay furloughs beginning Tuesday morning. Whereas 200 mission-critical civilian employees will continue working, but they wont receive pay until “we get an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution from Congress,” said Ramer.

These 200 employees will be paid for the time they work during the shutdown.

Moody will attempt to maintain full functions even during the shutdown. The jobs not affected by the governmental shutdown include “firefighters, security forces, and air-traffic control, because we have to maintain our flying operations, to maintain our readiness, for the safety and protection of property,” said Ramer.

Some Moody services still available to active-duty military members include child daycare, youth programs, and school-age services because these directly affect airmen's ability to maintain mission readiness, Ramer said.

The jobs that had to be furloughed were the administrative people in charge of implementing the furlough. In addition to them, maintenance, contract workers, also employees in the food sector and craft services were hit with the emergency, no-notice, non-pay furloughs. Ramer said, “We may have some challenges with executing maintenance on our airplanes without these service industries.”

Attempting to function normally under these stressful times, Moody's airmen will take over the civil-service jobs. Ramer said airmen are working 24/7 anyway, but this will double, if not, triple their current workload. In accordance with a bill signed into law by President Barack Obama early Tuesday, all active military members will receive their paychecks, and will not be hit by the financial burden of the furlough.

Other Moody areas affected by the furlough include the medical center and the commissary. Addressing the medical center, Ramer said, “All acute care and emergency care will continue their active services. All other elective services will be canceled until further notice.”

The commissary remained open Tuesday, but the DECA, the commissary activity part, will close today “because they aren't directly related to our command,” said Ramer.

Praising the employees of Moody, Ramer said, “The good thing about the employees here at Moody is that they understand the mission criticality, and they understand that it's not a personal evaluation of their importance, it is just something we have to go through because of the government shutdown.”

Ramer encouraged people affected by the furlough to keep track of Moody's website, the Facebook page, and the news to receive updates on the government shutdown, so that when the shut down is over, the furloughed workers can return to work as soon as possible.

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