Sequester insert, june 27, 2013


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Sequester insert, june 27, 2013

  1. 1. Soundoff!´
  2. 2. SOUNDOFF! June 27, 2013 Commander’s Column Contents Effect on Services.......13 Managing Finances.............16 Dealing with Stress.....14 Thrift Savings Plan...............17 Commissary Hours.....15 Employee Resources..........18 Editorial Staff Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Latter Public Affairs Officer Chad T. Jones Chief, Command Information Philip H. Jones Assistant Editor & Senior Writer Rona S. Hirsch Staff Writer Lisa R. Rhodes Staff Writer Brandon Bieltz Design Coordinator Timothy Davis Supple­mental photography provided by The Baltimore Sun Media Group Advertising General Inquiries 410-332-6300 Allison Thompson 410-332-6850 Michele Griesbauer 410-332-6381 If you would like information about receiving Soundoff! on Fort Meade or are experiencing distribution issues, call 877-886-1206 or e-mail Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Printed by offset method of reproduction as a civilian enterprise in the interest of the personnel at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, by The Baltimore Sun Media Group, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, every Thursday except the last Thursday of the year in conjunction with the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office. Requests for publication must reach the Public Affairs Office no later than Friday before the desired publication date. Mailing address: Post Public Affairs Office, Soundoff! IMME-MEA-PA, Bldg. 4409, Fort Meade, MD 20755-5025. Telephone: 301-677-5602; DSN: 622-5602. Everything advertised in this publication must be made available for purchase, use or patronage without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, handicap or sex of purchaser, user or patron.A confirmed violation or rejection of this policy of equal opportunity by an advertiser will result in the refusal to print advertising from that source. Printed by The Baltimore Sun Co., LLC, a private firm, in no way connected with the Department of the Army. Opinions expressed by the publisher and writers herein are their own and are not to be considered an official expression by the Department of the Army. The appearance of advertisers in the publication does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of the Army of the products or services advertised. You can also keep track of Fort Meade on Twitter at and view the Fort Meade Live Blog at Soundoff!´ Guaranteed circulation: 11,285 In less than two weeks, Department of Defense civilian employees will begin a series of unpaid leave days. The unpaid leave is a result of automatic budget cuts mandated by sequestration and the Budget Control Act. The unpaid leave, or furlough days, will result in DoD workers losing, on average, one day of work per week for three months from July 8 through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, Sept. 30. The unpaid leave represents a 20 percent cut in pay over that period. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, U.S. Army Installation Management Commander Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter and I have all expressed our regret regarding the consequences related to a reduction of our civilian workforce. We know the impact of furloughs will be stressful and challenging for employees as well as their families. I personally may not know each DoD employee at Fort Meade by name and exactly what you do, but what I can tell you is that whatever you do, every piece of paper you touch is a Solider or family action. I know what you do makes a difference. As a career Soldier, I am used to hearing the phrase, “The mission comes first.” But as we face losing 20 percent of our civilian workforce for the next three months, I know it is going to impact our mission. As garrison commander, I have three main responsibilities — providing safety, security and infrastructure — that will enable our part- ner commands to complete their missions. That being said, I have been granted limited furlough exceptions to our civilian workforce to ensure the public health and safety of the installation. During this period of furloughs, there will not be a reduction in services provid- ed by the Directorate of Emergency Services. We will continue to be able to meet our mission at Fort Meade. However, there will be immediate impacts. Effects of sequestra- tion will be felt here. You can expect to see cutbacks on facilities maintenance due to a loss of manpower hours and cuts in base operating costs. I am fully aware of the personal conse- quences many of you will face as a results of unpaid leave. Losing 20 percent of your pay will force many employees to juggle some dif- ficult decisions. These deci- sions could involve having enoughresourc- es to pay your rent or mort- gage, or bal- ancing monthly expenses that include utili- ties, food for your family and maybe a car payment. Some federal employees will be concerned about taking on too much debt — debt that could have an adverse effect on their employ- ment status as some federal jobs require a security clearance and that employees main- tain a certain credit rating to keep their clear- ance and job. I requested this special furlough-related Soundoff! insert with articles and resources designed to help federal employees make deci- sions with regard to the personal impact of sequestration. My goal is to outline resources and tools that provide answers to such questions as which rules apply to federal employees seeking a second job or how sequestration will affect your health care and retirement contribu- tions. And while this insert cannot possibly antici- pate all of the questions and concerns you may have as it relates to furloughs and sequestra- tion, I want you to know that I have asked my garrison leaders and human resources experts to be prepared to provide as much assistance as possible to help furloughed employees develop a strategy or a Plan B for getting through this difficult period of unpaid leave. As I said in the beginning of this column, I deeply regret the decisions that led to seques- tration. But the furloughs are something we are going to have to deal with. I do pledge, however, to continue to look for ways to limit the adverse effects of sequestra- tion and the associated budgetary shortfall that will impact Fort Meade’s federal employ- ees and the health, morale and welfare of Fort Meade. Dealing with sequestration COL. Edward c. Rothstein Garrison Commander
  3. 3. June 27, 2013 SOUNDOFF! 13 Special Section By Brandon Bieltz Staff Writer Over the last two weeks, more than 425 garrison employees received a memorandum informing them of administrative furloughs, which will begin July 8 and continue through the end of September. The minimum of 11 furlough days — down from the original 22 days — is part of the automatic spending cuts of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The furloughs will impact nearly 680,000 employees throughout the DoD. “I have made this decision very reluctantly because I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DoD operations,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said. “I recognize the sig- nificant hardship this places on you and your families.” Notices were hand-delivered to Fort Meade employees by supervisors. Deputy Garrison Commander John Moeller said delivering the letters in person ensured employees an oppor- tunity to ask questions. “The most important part about implementing the furloughs is to have open communication to ensure employ- ees are fully informed of the policies, regulations and the implementation,” Moeller said. “Supervisors and manag- ers, like the rest of the dedicated staff at Fort Meade, are also subjected to the mandatory furloughs.” Tenant organizations will issue their own furlough notices if their agencies are affected by the funding reduc- tions. While service members will not be furloughed, Fort Meade services will be affected by the furloughs including reduced operating hours, cancellation of events, and the closing of facilities on various days. There will be no reduction in police and fire services. During the furloughs, various agen- cies such as Army Community Service and Legal Assistance will be closed Fridays. Services operating on reduced hours will include the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Resource Man- agement, and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. The Defense Commissary Agency announced stores will be closed Mon- days during the furloughs as more than 14,000 of DeCA’s 16,000 employees will be impacted. “We know that any disruption in commissary operations will impact our patrons,” said Joseph H. Jeu, CEO and director of DeCA. “Also, we under- stand the tremendous burden this plac- es on our employees. ... We determined that Monday closures would present the least pain for our patrons, employ- ees and industry partners.” Commissary case-lot sales also have been canceled but will be replaced with weekly sidewalk sales. The DoD-wide furloughs are intend- ed to help cover the more than $30 billion shortfall in its operation and maintenance accounts. Furloughs will amount to an approximately 20 per- cent per-pay-period salary reduction. Cuts have already been made to facilities maintenance. Funds from investments have been shifted to the operation and maintenance accounts; many nonessential programs have been reduced; and training and maintenance for nondeployed operating forces have been significantly reduced. When these cuts came up short, Hagel made the decision for the 11-day furloughs. “Since deeper cuts to training and maintenance could leave our nation’s military exposed in the event of an unforeseen crisis, we have been forced to consider placing the majority of our civilian employees on administrative leave,” he said. “... I am counting on all of you to stay focused on this vital mission in the days ahead.” Garrison employees receive notices of 11-day furloughs Closed Fridays: • Mission and Installation Con- tracting Command • Installation Safety Office • Equal Employment Opportunity Office • Plans, Analysis and Integration Office • Housing and Barracks Manage- ment • Training Support Center and Visual Information • Mail Distribution • Demps Visitor Control Center, Reece Road Main Gate (Gate 3) • Army Community Services (Assis- tance available for emergencies and urgent matters) • Legal Assistance Office, Claims and Trial Defense Services (Assis- tance available for emergencies and urgent matters) Closed Wednesdays: • Fort Meade Museum Limited Manpower Fridays and Mondays: • Resource Management Office • Military Justice and Privatized Army Lodging • Ranges Normal Hours of Operation - Reduced Manpower: • Army Career and Alumni Program • Army Substance Abuse Program • Casualty Assistance • Military Personnel Division • Directorate of Emergency Services • Child Development Centers/Child, Youth and School Services • Installation Operations Center/ Emergency Operations Center • McGill Training Center • Business Operations Division • Engineer Division • Environmental Division • Civilian Personnel Advisory Center • Directorate of Logistics • Inspector General • Internal Revenue and Audit Com- pliance • Network Enterprise Center • Public Affairs Office • Recreation Operations • Religious Services Impact of Sequestration Furloughs By Nick Simeone American Forces Press Service Sequestration spending cuts could con- tinue into 2014, and the impact of the deep cuts will fall disproportionately on small business, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official told a Navy industry forum June 3. “It’s a reasonable possibility that we will go into 2014 with sequestration still under way,” said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “A lot of things we planned on doing we won’t be able to do.” Last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Defense Department employees he could not guarantee that the budget situ- ation would ease next year. Kendall’s comments to the 2013 Navy Opportunity Forum in Arlington, Va., come three months into a budget seques- ter that is taking $41 billion out of the Pentagon budget this fiscal year, leading to cuts across the military in everything from operations and deployments to training and readiness. Furloughs are set to begin in July for about 85 percent of the Defense Depart- ment’s 767,000 civilian employees. In the sequestration environment, Ken- dall said, the department needs to be more proactive in taking care of the small busi- nesses that contract with the military. “The cuts we are going to experience potentially will fall on small businesses,” more than on large military contractors, he said, adding that cuts in research and development worry him as well. “Potential adversaries are modernizing at a rate which makes me nervous,” he told the group, which included representatives of companies that produce advanced tech- nologies funded by Navy programs. Kendall said the department is about to conclude its strategic choices and manage- ment review, which Hagel ordered to pro- vide department leaders with options given the current budget environment as well as the prospect of future spending cuts. “What would we have to do at the depart- ment if we had to take $50 billion a year out over the long term? That would be pretty devastating,” Kendall said, mentioning one such scenario being considered by the review. Sequestration likely to continue into 2014
  4. 4. SOUNDOFF! June 27, 2013 Special Section By Joella Gibbs Resiliency Trainer Behavioral Health Care Services Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center It is a very challenging time for many Department of the Army civil- ian employees due to the upcoming furloughs. It is important that we recognize this challenging time as an opportunity to build our inner strengths. Although it will be difficult for indi- viduals and organizations, keep in mind that there are many healthy ways to alleviate stress and that the furloughs will, hopefully, be temporary. Healthy ways to deal with stress • Focus on the positive. Although the situation is difficult, we can remind our- selves that the amount of furlough days has been significantly reduced from 22 days to 11 days. • We will get more time to spend with friends and family. We also get more time to relax. • It is an opportunity to review our household budgets and look at areas where we can reduce spending. Some of these areas may be cutting back on dining out or reducing the amount of spending on cell phone cov- erage, TV, movies and Internet access. Some of these changes may even become permanent ways to save money. • Create a “To Do” list and use the extra time to catch up on some of the things that you may have been putting off or didn’t have the time to do. • Talk about it. It is normal to feel angry, afraid or uncertain. It is impor- tant to share your feelings about the situation with the individuals who are closest to you. • Be active. It is important to stay (or get) active, especially during times of increased stress. • Get creative. Look at free or low- cost opportunities: cutting coupons, going for walks or checking out books from the local library. • Plan for success. Resilient people view obstacles and setbacks as chal- lenges and opportunities. We all experience setbacks through- out life, but we can develop strength during the most difficult times. • Look for opportunities to earn extra income to ease the burden. This might include part-time employment or selling unwanted items around the house. • Get help if you need it. We all deal with stress differently, but when stress begins to affect your relationships, work or personal happiness, it may be time to seek professional help. Signs and symptoms of stress Although it is very normal to experi- ence some stress during the furlough, it is helpful to know the warning signs of excessive stress: • Fear and anxiety about the future • Difficulty making decisions or con- centrating • Inability to focus • Feeling emotionally numb • Irritability and anger • Sadness and depression • Feeling powerless • Crying for no apparent reason • Headaches and stomach problems • Difficulty sleeping When to seek help Indicators that you may need profes- sional help: • Excessive use of alcohol and drugs • Individuals close to you are show- ing concern • Extreme changes in eating patterns: loss of appetite or overeating • Nightmares and recurring thoughts • Unable to stop thinking about the situation • Continued difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep • Feeling jumpy or easily startled • Being overly concerned about safe- ty • Feeling guilty, worthless or hope- less • Not taking pleasure in activities once enjoyed • Thoughts of death or suicide Resources for assistance • Active-duty service members may call Behavioral Health Care Services at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center at 301-677-8895. • Department of the Army civil- ian employees may call the Employee Assistance Program at 301-677-7121 or 301-677-7981. Dealing with the stress of furloughs
  5. 5. June 27, 2013 SOUNDOFF! 15 Special Section By Kevin L. Robinson Defense Commissary Agency FORT LEE, Va. — When furloughs are implemented, most military commis- saries will close one day a week, on Mon- days, the Defense Commissary Agency’s top official said. Closures will be for up to 11 days, between July 8 and Sept. 30. “We know that any disruption in commissary operations will impact our patrons,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA’s director and CEO. “Also, we understand the tremendous burden this places on our employees, who, when furloughed, will lose 20 percent of their pay. “We determined that Monday clo- sures would present the least pain for our patrons, employees and industry partners.” Closing commissaries on Mondays would be in addition to any day stores are routinely closed. The 148 stores that routinely close on Mondays would also close the next normal day of operation. Other than the furlough day, there are no other changes planned for store operation hours. The announcement comes as DeCA follows DoD protocols related to the automatic, federal government budget reductions known as sequestration, which began March 1. Like most DoD activities, DeCA is mandated by DoD to furlough its civil service employees. DeCA has 247 commissaries with more than 16,000 employees operating in 13 countries and two U.S. territories. Fur- loughs will impact all of DeCA’s more than 14,000 U.S. civilian employees. As sequestration continues, commis- sary customers can quickly find out about any changes to their local store’s operat- ing schedule by going online to commis-, clicking on the “Locations” tab, then “Alphabetical Listing,” finding their store and clicking on “local store information.” Patrons are reminded that because sequestration is so fluid, DeCA’s plan for this budget-cutting measure is subject to change. DeCA decided on Monday closures after weighing the potential disruption to patrons and suppliers of having roll- ing furloughs, where closure dates would differ from store to store. Universal Monday closures are less disruptive to shoppers and the agency’s industry partners — vendors, suppliers Commissaries plan for Monday furloughs photo by brandon bieltz The Fort Meade Commissary will be closed Mondays from July 8 through Sept. 30 as a result of sequestration. More than 14,000 commissary employees worldwide will be impacted by the furloughs. and distributors — who deliver products daily to DeCA’s commissaries. Store staffs overseas include a mix of U.S. and local national employees. Because they are not U.S. government employees, local national employees are not subject to this furlough action. Select locations overseas will open if they have an adequate local national staff. However, if an overseas store is closed, its local national staff will report to work and perform other store-related duties. In January, DoD released guidance to allow Defense components to plan for potential budget cuts by reducing operating costs. In line with that direc- tion, DeCA later executed the following budget-cutting measures: • A hiring freeze on all outside hires • Curtailment of official travel for all conferences, training, and any other events and activities considered noncriti- cal to the agency’s mission • Cancellation of the agency’s May Worldwide Case Lot Sales for all com- missaries. Instead, stores are conducting smaller-scale events such as outdoor sidewalk sales. • Curtailment of all overtime and compensatory time unless deemed mis- sion-critical • Review of contract services to restrict any increases • Curtailment of all monetary awards unless legally required • Postponement of all Guard and Reserve on-site sales scheduled after July 8 until further notice. “We are in this together.” Jeu said. “And though limited in our ability by circumstances we cannot control, I assure you we will do all we can to mitigate the impact of sequestration on our patrons, employees and industry partners, and on our mission.” The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commis- saries, providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commis- saries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commis- sary, patrons save an average of 30 percent or more on their purchases compared to commercial prices — savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually.
  6. 6. SOUNDOFF! June 27, 2013 Special Section By Lisa R. Rhodes Staff Writer The most pressing concern for DoD civilians who will be furloughed is how to manage their finances over the next three months. Ryan D. Yarnell, personal financial readiness specialist at Army Community Service, suggests the following tips for dealing with the stress of financial pres- sures due to reduced income: How can people best manage their money during the furloughs? • Prepare your budget. This will allow you to identify any gaps in income when the furlough begins. Knowing the gaps can help people plan to fill in those gaps. • Track your spending to identify “fat” in your budget, and look for ways to cut the “fat.” • Try very hard not to add to your debt levels. This short-term attempt to replace the missing income will only cre- ate bigger long-term problems after the furlough is over. • Know your resources. Contact your lenders to find out if they have any special programs available to assist federal government employees. Some lenders are temporarily reducing interest rates or allowing customers to skip a payment if necessary. • Prioritize your spending. If you find that you will not have enough income to cover all of your expenses, make sure you take care of high-priority items first. For example, allow enough money to provide for food, shelter, reason- able clothing, transportation and utili- ties before spending on dining out or a movie. • Prioritize your debt payments. Secured loan payments (mortgage and car payments) always come before unse- cured (credit cards). If you need to miss any debt payments, be sure to contact the lenders to let them know what’s going on. They may agree to waive a late payment fee. Is it a good idea to withdraw funds from a retirement account to make ends meet? Not usually. Most employees will be under the age of 59 1/2, so in addition to potentially having to pay taxes on their distribution, they will also be penalized 10 percent by the IRS. Also, this can have a drastic impact on future earnings potential. The same thing goes for loans from Thrift Savings Plan accounts. It unplugs the money from accounts with high growth potential and limits it to the G- Fund return during repayment. In general, what can people do now to prepare for financial hardships down the road? • Pay more attention to your money. Many people let their money control them instead of the other way around. Keep track of where your money goes so that you can do a better job of planning where you want it to go. A monthly budget is a great tool that helps put you in the driver’s seat. • Create an emergency savings account that you can keep your hands off. Many people have trouble saving money for emergencies because they keep this account too close to their checking account. • Open an account with another finan- cial institution without an ATM card or checks and pretend it doesn’t exist. Ultimately, people need to spend less than they make, limit their use of debt, and create automatic savings for emer- gencies, retirement and other financial goals. For more information on financial read- iness classes at ACS, call 301-677-5590. Managing your finances during the sequester Guidance for administrative furloughs The U.S. Office of Personnel Manage- ment has prepared “Guidance for Admin- istrative Furloughs,” a human resources guidance for agencies and employees on administrative furloughs. The following questions were taken from the guide. To review the complete document, go to pages/cpac/cpac2.html. What is an administrative furlough and why are administrative furloughs necessary? An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency that is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by down- sizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. This type of furlough is typically a nonemergency furlough in that the agency has sufficient time to reduce spending and give adequate notice to employees of its specific furlough plan and how many furlough days will be required. An example of when such a furlough may be necessary is when, as a result of congressional budget decisions, an agency is required to absorb additional reduc- tions over the course of a fiscal year. May employees take other jobs during a period designated as furlough time off? While on furlough time off, an indi- vidual remains an employee of the fed- eral government. Therefore, executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct and rules regarding outside employment continue to apply when an individual is furloughed (specifically, the executive branch-wide standards of ethical conduct at 5 CFR part 2635). In addition, there are specific statutes that prohibit certain outside activities and agency-specific supplemental rules that require prior approval of, and sometimes prohibit, outside employment. Therefore, before engaging in outside employment, an employee should review these regulations and then consult his or her agency ethics official to learn if there are any agency-specific supplemen- tal rules governing the employee. Are there any plans to provide specific guidance for restoration of annual leave due to the potential inability to use all “use or lose” prior to the end of the leave year? Currently, there’s no provision in the law for such only if such was due to an administration error, exigency of the public business, sickness or national emergency by reason of certain terrorist attacks [5 U.S.C. 6304(d) and (e) or 5 CFR 630.305-311]. However, there’s plenty of time to schedule leave or incorporate the office’s leave with your furlough schedule. If, by approximately Nov. 27, the agen- cy has an exigency and requires your ser- vices and cancels your leave, or you meet one of the provisions aforementioned, then the commander could grant such restoration. May an employee volunteer to do his or her job on a nonpay basis during any hours or days designated as furlough time off? No. Unless otherwise authorized by law, an agency may not accept the vol- untary services of an employee. (See 31 U.S.C. 1342.) When an employee’s pay is insufficient to permit all deductions to be made because furlough time off occurs in the middle of a pay period and the employee receives a partial paycheck, what is the order of withholding precedence? Agencies will follow the guidance at tails.aspx?TransmittalID=1477 to deter- mine the order of precedence for applying deductions from the pay of its civilian employees when gross pay is insufficient to cover all authorized deductions. May federal agencies require employees who are placed on administrative furlough for all or part of their basic workweek to work hours outside the basic workweek? Yes. An agency may assign work during hours outside the employee’s basic work- week, subject to any applicable agency policies or collective bargaining agree- ments. Employees are only in furlough status for designated furlough hours. Furlough status means the employee is placed in nonpay, nonduty status for certain hours within the employee’s tour of duty estab- lished for leave usage purposes — the tour of duty for which absences require the charging of leave. Thus, for full-time employees with a 40-hour basic workweek, furlough hours must be within the 40-hour basic work- week. For part-time employees, furlough hours must be within the employee’s part-time basic workweek based on the part-time tour of duty established for leave usage purposes. For employees on an uncommon tour
  7. 7. June 27, 2013 SOUNDOFF! 17 Special Section By Claudette Roulo American Forces Press Service Furloughed federal civilian employees could see their Thrift Savings Plan contri- butions reduced. The Thrift Savings Plan is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve. “Employees who have selected their TSP contribution to be a percentage of their pay will see smaller contributions during the furlough period due to their reduced pay,” said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Defense Department spokes- woman. For example, an employee who earns $1,000 of basic pay every two-week pay period and contributes 10 percent of it to the TSP would make a $100 TSP contribution during a normal pay period. However, if the employee is furloughed for two days per pay period, basic pay would decrease to $800. As a result, the TSP contribution would be $80 per pay period. Employees who contribute a set dollar amount won’t see that amount change with a reduction in pay, Hull-Ryde said. For this reason, now is a good time to review TSP contribution amounts to see if they are appropriate, Thrift Savings Plan officials said. Basic pay reductions also will affect the matching funds contributed by the Defense Department and other agencies. According to a Thrift Savings Plan news release, any reduction in pay will propor- tionally decrease the matching funds con- tribution, regardless of whether employees contribute a percentage of their pay or a set dollar amount. The furloughs may cause financial hard- ship for some employees. In those cases, they may consider making a hardship withdrawal from their TSP fund. Such withdrawals have several restrictions: • If you take a hardship withdrawal, you will not be able to make any TSP contributions for six months after having received your funds. • You may withdraw only your contri- butions and the earnings associated with them. The total amount cannot exceed your financial hardship. • You must pay income tax on the tax- able portion of any withdrawal. You may also be subject to a 10 percent early-with- drawal penalty tax. If you are a Federal Employees Retire- ment System participant, you will not receive agency-matching contributions. • A hardship withdrawal cannot be repaid, so your TSP account is perma- nently reduced by the amount of your withdrawal. A better option may be taking a loan against your TSP, officials said. Loans can be repaid — plus interest — but the account continues to accrue earnings even as the loan is paid back. TSP officials recommend that employ- ees think carefully before decreasing or stopping their traditional TSP contribu- tions. Those contributions are subtracted from pre-tax income, and terminating contributions could increase income tax liability. Roth TSP contributions are subtracted from employees’ after-tax income. Chang- es will not affect tax liability. “One of the great things about your TSP contributions, no matter how small, is that the earnings compound over time. If you stop your contributions, even for a short time, you’ll miss this opportunity altogether,” the news release stated. Federal Employees Retirement System participants would, in effect, be losing free money by stopping their contribu- tions because matching contributions also would stop, officials said. Furlough to affect Thrift Savings Plan contributions of duty established under 5 CFR 630.210, furlough hours must be within the uncom- mon tour of duty. May an employee on a flexible work schedule earn credit hours by working during a week or on a day when the employee is furloughed? During a week or on a day when an employee is furloughed during cer- tain basic work requirement hours, the employee may earn credit hours by electing to work in excess of his or her basic work requirement, subject to all legal requirements and applicable agency policies or collective bargaining agreements. An employee may not earn credit hours by working during designated furlough hours within the employee’s basic work requirement. Also, an employee may not use pre- viously earned credit hours during fur- lough hours. The substitution rule in 5 CFR 550.112 may not be applied to credit hours. May an employee take paid leave or other forms of paid time off (such as annual, sick, court or military leave; leave for bone marrow or organ donor leave; credit hours earned; any compensatory time off earned; or time off awards) instead of taking administrative furlough time off? No. During an administrative furlough, an employee may not substitute paid leave or other forms of paid time off for any hours or days designated as furlough time off. Can agencies furlough employees who are on approved leave without pay (LWOP) during a time when administrative furloughs are being conducted for other employees? Agencies have discretion in determin- ing whether to furlough employees who are in LWOP status, since both furloughs and LWOP are periods of nonpay status. Employees may already be scheduled for LWOP for a variety of reasons and for various lengths of time on either a continuous or discontinuous basis. An employee’s LWOP may or may not fully encompass the period during which administrative furloughs are being con- ducted for other employees in the same organization. For example, for one employee, a con- tinuous one-year period of leave without pay to accompany a military spouse overseas may encompass the entire period during which administrative furloughs are being conducted in an employee’s organization, while another employee’s continuous LWOP may end during that period. Other employees may be scheduled to take LWOP on a regular but discontinu- ous basis under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Agencies are responsible for deter- mining: (1) whether employees already scheduled for LWOP during a period when administrative furloughs are being conducted will be subject to furlough, and (2) the hours of furlough required of such employees. May employees be administratively furloughed on a holiday? Employees may be furloughed for peri- ods of time that include holidays. However, an agency should select the furlough days off on programmatic and administrative grounds that are unrelated to the fact that the period includes a holiday. For example, an agency may not prop- erly furlough employees for a three-day period, the middle of which is a holiday, for the sole purpose of saving three days’ pay while losing only two days of work. Neither would it be proper to furlough an employee solely on a holiday. (See Comptroller General opinion B-222836, May 8, 1986.) If employees have a designated administrative furlough day off on the last workday before a holiday or the first workday after a holiday (but not on both days), will they be paid for the holiday? Yes. The general rule is that an employ- ee is entitled to pay for a holiday so long as he or she is in a pay status on either the workday preceding a holiday or the workday following a holiday. The employee is paid for the holiday based on the presumption that, but for the holiday, the employee would have worked. A holiday should not be the first or last day of the period covered by a furlough. Will an employee continue to be covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program during an administrative furlough? The employee’s FEHB coverage will continue if the employee’s salary is suf- ficient to pay the premiums. If the employee’s salary becomes insufficient to pay FEHB premiums due to the furlough, the leave without pay/ insufficient pay rules apply ( healthcare-insurance/healthcare/reference materials/reference/leave-without-pay-sta- tus-and-insufficient-pay/). If the employee chooses to remain covered, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon the employee’s pay becom- ing sufficient to cover the premiums.
  8. 8. SOUNDOFF! June 27, 2013 Special Section Army Community Service Education and programs are designed to enhance resiliency and well-being. Individual, group and fam- ily sessions include: Financial Readiness, Family Team Build- ing, Communication/Conflict Resolution, Anger and Stress Management. Military and Family Life con- sultants work closely with ACS. For more information, visit ACS at the Community Readi- ness Center, 830 Chisholm Ave. or call 301-677-5590, or go online at Office of Garrison Chaplain Confidential counseling ses- sions in marriage relationships, stress and anxiety, depression, grief, anger management and other family issues. For more information, call 301-677-6703 or 301-677-6035 or visit chapel/chapel.html. Federal Employee Education Assistance Fund FEEA is a community of fed- eral employees helping federal employees. The organization can help make ends meet and help federal employees obtain emer- gency assistance when the fur- lough begins. For more information, call 303-933-7580 or visit Military One Source Military One Source provides support on a wide range of con- cerns including parenting and child care, wounded warriors, spouse education and employ- ment, relocation, financial man- agement, legal concerns, everyday community and consumer issues, emotional well-being, health and wellness, housing, recreation, pet care, adult or child special needs, military life, work concerns, elder care, military health care, and referrals to confidential counsel- ing to assist families in coping with adverse situations. For more information, call 1- 800-342-9647 or visit militaryo- Fort Meade Education Center Provides education counsel- ing, tuition assistance, finan- cial aid, GI Bill information, DANTES and other testing. For more information, call 301- 677-6421 or visit mil/pages/ed_ctr/education.html. Housing Division Can assist Fort Meade employees with locating off-post housing as well as with disputes regarding on and off-post hous- ing. To contact the Housing Divi- sion, call 301-677-7748. Civilian Personnel Advisory Center For the latest furlough infor- mation, call 301-677-6526 or visit the following websites: • Home Page: mil/pages/cpac/cpac2.html • sequestration.html • Department of the Army: general/ 2013sequestration/ • Department of Defense: loughGuidance/ • OPM: oversight/pay-leave/furlough- guidance/#url=Administrative- Furlough Employee Assistance Program EAP is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and con- fidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have per- sonal and/or work-related problems. It addresses a broad and com- plex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders. For more information, call 301- 677-7121/7981 or visit pages/organizations/dhr/dhr.html. Fort Meade Army Substance Abuse Prevention Program ASAP provides substance abuse prevention, treatment and referral services for active-duty service members, family mem- bers, retirees and DoD civilians age 18 and older. For more information, call 301-677-7121 or visit ftmeade. dhr/asap/index.html. Kimbrough Behavioral Health Department The Behavioral Health Clin- ic at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center provides emergency walk-in services for active-duty service members, family mem- bers, retirees and DoD civilians of all ages. For more information, call 301-677-8791 or visit kacc. aspx/MP_KACC.htm. Thrift Savings Plan TSP offers several options for those experiencing a financial hardship. For more information, visit Loans in a non-pay status: • Participating in TSP while in non-pay status • Handling TSP loans while in non-pay status For information, visit planparticipation/loans/nonpay- status.shtml. Loans: • How a TSP loan works • Loan types and terms • Loan eligibility For information, visit planparticipation/loans/loanBa- sics.shtml. Financial hardship in-service withdrawals: • Eligibility rules • Consequences of financial hardship withdrawals • Tax considerations • Applying for a financial hardship withdrawal • Receiving your financial hardship withdrawal For information, visit lifeevents/hardship/economicH- ardship.shtml. Maryland Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program Provides financial assistance to help the residents of Maryland buy nutritious foods through the use of food stamps. Other Maryland benefits list- ed at state/MD. Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services • All issues: 410-269-4600 • County Partnership for Chil- dren, Youth and Families: 410- 222-7423 Baltimore County Department of Social Services • Medical assistance, food supplements, temporary cash assistance and financial assis- tance programs: 1-800-332-6347 or 410-853-3000 Baltimore City Department of Human Services • 443-378-4600 Carroll County Citizens Services • Assistance with Housing: 410-386-3600 • Department of Social Ser- vices: Assistance with food, child care, medical assistance: 410- 386-3300 Howard County Department of Social Services: • All issues: 410-872-8700 • Financial advice: 443-718- 9350 • Community Action Coun- cil - Multiple Services: 410-313- 6440 • Office of Aging (over 50): 410-313-6410 • General information or assis- tance on aging: 410-313-5980 Montgomery County Crisis Center Provides immediate responses to crisis situations for all resi- dents of Montgomery County. The center provides goal-ori- ented crisis intervention, brief crisis stabilization, and help in obtaining services for individuals and families with a mental health crisis or experiencing other crisis situations. For more information, call 240-777-4000. Prince George’s County Department of Social Services • Temporary cash assistance, food supplement program, medi- cal assistance, emergency assis- tance, Child Care Subsidy Pro- gram: 301-209-5000 • Prince George’s County Sui- cide Hotline: 301-864-7130 Provides crisis intervention services to anyone in need, 365 days a year. Professional counseling staff is available to listen, provide cri- sis intervention counseling and support, and make referrals on a wide range of issues. Also offers walk-in crisis counseling, emergency shelter, transitional housing and com- munity education. Regional Suicide Prevention Hotlines/Mobile Crisis Response Teams • MD Crisis Hotline: 800- 422-0009 • Anne Arundel County: 410- 768-5522 • Baltimore: 410-931-2214 • Eastern Shore: 888-407- 8018 • Montgomery County: 301- 738-2255 • Prince George’s County: 301-429-5522 Military Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - Press 1 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline • 1-800-273-TALK (8255) • Social Media • Facebook: FtMeade • Twitter: • Live blog: ftmeade.armylive. • Public website: www.ftmeade. Fort Meade Employee Resource Guide