By Andrea Agardy, staff writer
The impact of sequestration continues to hit close to home, with Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) announcing last Monday that it will need to eliminate 128 jobs at AEDC in response to deep cuts in federal funding.
ATA is the primary contractor at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) and currently employs 1,809 people.
Sequestration, a word not in general use until earlier this year, refers to automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the face of annual budget deficits.
“This past week ATA reached an agreement with the AEDC Air Force to reduce the workforce by up to 128 personnel,” said Steve Pearson, ATA general manager.
Before acting to reduce staff levels, Pearson said, “the effects of sequestration were minimized by first looking at all non-labor expenditures.”
In addition, all non-mission essential hiring, travel and purchasing were frozen in anticipation of the funding cuts.
Sequestration reduced AEDC’s budget — and, by extension, ATA’s funding — by 29 percent in operations and maintenance and 9.9 percent in all other accounts, according to Arnold officials.
Unlike the Air Force’s civilian employees at AEDC — who have been told to expect to be furloughed one day a week for as many as 22 weeks — ATA’s employees affected by sequestration will lose their jobs.
Kathy Gattis, ATA public affairs director, said the company is looking to reduce the number of employees who receive reduction-in-force two-week notices by putting out a call for voluntary reductions-in-force (VRIF) reduction-in-force and volunteer early retirement offers (VERO), seeking volunteers to willingly give up their positions.
VRIF applications will be accepted through March 29 and the deadline for the submission of VERO requests is April 18. ATA will make up the remainder of the 128 positions to be cut by issuing reduction-in-force notices, Gattis said.
“Those accepted for VRIF along with those involuntarily reduced will be notified Friday, April 5. The final day of work will be April 19 for outprocessing,” she said.
The cuts will be spread out across a variety of areas, but the majority of jobs lost are expected to come from support rather than test functions, Gattis said.
In April ATA will be offering outplacement services to those affected, bringing in a firm to assist with resume writing and interviewing.
Pearson and Gattis both emphasized the situation is fluid, and a lot can change in the coming weeks due to new government regulations regarding the federal budget and sequestration.
“The situation is still unfolding and the price tag goes up if we don’t do something now,” Gattis said, pointing out that federal funding was not slashed until midway through the fiscal year, “and we’re still accountable for the first six months.”
Additional information and updates on the effects of sequestration may be found at the website www.arnold.af.mil/sequestration.
-Andrea Agardy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.