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Letter to the Editor: Week of June 24

Jun. 23, 2013 - 02:55PM   |  
  |   Comments

Where cuts don't save

Budget cuts have affected Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, Wash., by restricting hiring to maintain a workforce capable of keeping up with the workload. Should furloughs become a reality, working conditions and productivity will be more negatively affected. This situation does not save the government money because these jobs are funded through working capital funds.

Thus, Keyport is funded through a pay-as-you-go system from customers — all branches of the military requiring various equipment and support — rather than congressional appropriations.

Imagine these numbers multiplied by facilities in similar situations:

On approximately May 1, Keyport had 47 open positions. By Sept. 30, that number is expected to be approximately 100. Simply put, this means fewer people to do more work.

Keyport is fully funded for approximately two years of work. But it is underexecuting its workload by 24 to 70 man-years. This underexecution directly affects the war fighters, industry, the community and taxpayers.

By Sept. 30, NUWC Keyport will have approximately 105 man-years of funded work that will not be accomplished, due to the hiring freeze but not including furloughs. This number may go up due to unanticipated retirements, but it will also increase due to implementation of furloughs of the already stretched workforce.

Keyport has begun to talk and plan for mandatory overtime to offset some of the negative effects furloughs will cause.

Planned expenditures on about April 30 were an estimated $342 million, while actual expenditures were approximately $291 million. The remaining $51 million reflects the amount of work unaccomplished due to manpower shortages and underexecution of the workload and mission. If there were no restrictions on delivery, quality, quantity and time, this would be a great cost savings to the government. But, when you begin a project that requires four personnel working eight hours a day, five to six days a week, to finish on schedule and within budget, and then you cut the number of workers in half and reduce the experience level due to attrition with no backfill, the cost savings become a deficit. Big money is spent on overtime to meet deadlines. Purchases are made sometimes spending more than budgeted for emergent material needs, shipping and the constant incorrect or last-minute indecision caused by political entities. These issues begin to wear down the workforce, sometimes causing increased rework due to fatigue and illness. These are the beginnings of the ripple effect.

Total year-end carryover dollars are expected to be $237 million, more than enough to continue to pay workers and avoid furloughs.

The NUWC Bremerton Metal Trades Council on May 17 filed allegations of unfair labor practices with the Federal Labor Relations Authority in San Francisco. It has also filed waste charges with the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office, and requested a review from the Federal Service Impasses Panel because the government refused to negotiate the impact of furloughs before implementing them.

Wayne Patterson, chairman, NUWC Division Keyport Bremerton Metal Trades Council

Keyport, Wash.

Editor’s note: Navy public affairs officer Patricia Dolan said the Navy cannot comment on the letter and noted the union has a right to express its views.

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