Cannon prepares for possible civilian furloughs Published March 11, 2013 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Civilian personnel from the 27th Special Operations Wing were able to gain more insight and ask questions about an impending potential administrative furlough during a meeting at the base theater at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 8, 2013. Col. Buck Elton, 27 SOW commander, addressed a crowd of Cannon civil service employees, explaining the Air Force's plan to combat upcoming fiscal constraints with a civilian hiring freeze and furloughs. During a furlough, employees are placed in temporary non-duty, non-pay status. "We are articulating the impact this has on our special operations missions, of which, every one of you play an important part," said Elton. "We are going to do everything we can to protect our vital capabilities, but the bottom line is, this is how the Department of Defense and our Air Force are going to implement a significant portion of savings forced by this sequestration." The furlough, part of a much larger government initiative consisting of automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, is designed to help absorb the necessary budget reductions for Fiscal Year 13. Under the furlough, all Cannon's civil service employees would have to take a maximum of 16 hours of unpaid time per 10-day pay period, adding up to 22 discontinuous days total. For Cannon's civil service work force this will equate to a 20 percent pay cut for the duration of the furlough. "We understand that this will have a major financial impact on our civilians, but sequestration is now federal law and we must follow the law," Elton said. Military members' pay structure is exempt from sequestration cuts and will not be impacted. During this time of unpaid leave, civilian workers would be legally prohibited from performing their job duties from home or acting as volunteers in the office. Work on a furlough day violates federal law and could result in disciplinary action. Employees will be provided at least a 30 day notification period prior to the implementation of any furlough, said Rick Masters, 27 SOW director of staff. Should the process move forward, Cannon will send out those notices no later than March 25, he said. The furlough period is expected to run from April 25 through Sept. 30, 2013. The majority of Cannon's civilian workforce will be able to self-furlough, meaning they can discuss with their supervisors and commanders which days they prefer to take their unpaid leave. Cannon has approximately 430 civil service employees that would be subject to the potential furlough. If at any time Congress passes a balanced deficit reduction plan that the president signs, and as part of that plan sufficient funding to DoD's civilian pay accounts is restored, the sequestration could be reversed and the furloughs would end immediately. Employees interested in more information on civil service furloughs can visit www.opm.gov or send questions to Cannon's Civilian Personnel Section. Limited services will also be provided by the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund and the Air Force Aid Society. The Cannon Airman & Family Readiness Center can also be contacted at 575-784-4228 for additional assistance.