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AFMC requests that civilians voluntarily provide leave information

  • Published
  • By John Scaggs
  • Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs
In May, Air Force Materiel Command took part in a joint exercise that revealed shortcomings in AFMC's ability to contact civil service employees on leave.

Ardent Sentry 2006, a two-week U.S. Northern Command exercise, tested service members' response capabilities to crises ranging from a major hurricane to a terrorist attack to a pandemic flu outbreak.

Shortly after the exercise concluded, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, issued a letter regarding readiness for national emergencies and natural disasters. General Moseley stated that all commanders must know the status of their personnel prior to, during and after any disaster or emergency. Further, commanders must be able to report that status to higher headquarters.

While Air Force civilians are not required to provide supervisors with personal contact information while on leave, the commander of AFMC said he believes it's a good practice.

"Most, if not all, of us have heard a commander say that people are our most important resource," said Gen. Bruce Carlson. "Well, that's true, which is why I encourage our civilian work force to voluntarily provide leave information so that we can attempt to help them during emergency situations."

General Carlson leads a total work force of about 77,900. Approximately 56,700 are civilians, the highest concentration among the Air Force's nine major commands. He said having phone numbers and addresses of all civilians on leave would allow the command to account for every member of the work force during contingencies such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, events calling for rapid responses or deployments, and other crises calling AFMC to action.

However, the current Air Force policy does not require mandatory reporting of the whereabouts for civilians who are in leave status, according to Leif Peterson, director of the Manpower and Personnel Directorate at Headquarters AFMC.

"The Privacy Act precludes us from forcing civilians to provide emergency contact information while on leave, such as a phone number or address," said Mr. Peterson. "Civilians can voluntarily submit this information, which is not a Privacy Act violation. However, once the information has been provided, it is covered by the Privacy Act and must be safeguarded against disclosure to third parties."

At this time, the contact information will not be requested from employees represented by American Federation of Government Employees Council 214 and, in accordance with existing guidance, any civilians who choose not to provide a telephone number or address while on leave are not subject to disciplinary action.

Headquarters AFMC's Manpower, Personnel and Services Directorate will distribute updates as new information becomes available.