412th Test Wing modifies hiring, in-processing, and adjust processes due to COVID-19
By Grady Fontana, 412th Test Wing
/ Published April 09, 2020
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
There’s no question that the civilian workforce on Edwards Air Force Base serves an integral function in the Air Force lifeblood that keeps the base operating and performing its vital Test and Evaluation (T&E) mission in support of the military services.
With a civilian population two-thirds the size of its active duty component, the civilian government employees enable the mission to continue. New hires and transfers are a regular occurrence during normal operations. But these are not normal times.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the base health protection conditions (HPCON) and measures increased, all essential functions were scaled down.
However, Edwards AFB is considered a hard-to-fill location and hiring a new Air Force civilian may take up to 120 days on average, therefore, hiring is a critical function to the test and evaluation mission.
“It’s imperative to continue hiring for this location to maintain personnel levels to meet our dynamic mission requirements for the present and future whether the job need is in finance, law enforcement, logistics, engineering or child care,” said Michelle Lovato, 412 Test Wing Civilian Personnel Officer. “Any delay could result in a loss of talent or production in one of our critical areas.”
To accommodate during reduced manning levels in HPCON Charlie, Civilian Personnel Flight Team (CPFT) implemented a 100 percent virtual in-processing during the COVID-19 emergency and continued the critical human resources (HR) mission.
For those functions that required physical interaction, the members partnered with the city of Palmdale, California, March 30, to physically in-process 28 new civilians, which enabled the new staff to be placed on the Air Force rolls while in quarantine, ensuring the safety of others, and preventing the loss in critical hires across the 412 TW.
“When our office received notice that Edwards AFB was in HPCON Charlie and there would only be base access for mission-essential employees, our office had to find an alternate location for in-processing new employees,” said Deborah Perkins, chief, staffing, 412 TW. “Ms. Lovato worked with the installation director, who contacted the city of Palmdale and asked for assistance.”
As a result, the city was able to provide the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center at Palmdale, California, and the Civilian Personnel Staffing and Employee Relations Management teams worked together to develop special reporting instructions to the new hires for the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center.
The modified process included dividing the new hires into three small groups arriving at different intervals during the day to ensure the process complied with CDC guidelines for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our small HR team verified U.S. citizenship, completed payroll documents, and briefed benefits information,” said Perkins.
Most importantly, the HR team administered the Oath of Office to the new civil servants with an American flag transported from Edwards AFB.
“We are all connected by our oath of office,” said Perkins. “On our first day as Federal employees, we did more than start a new job. We responded to the call to serve the American people. The staff at the cultural center was able to accommodate our request for a set up to adhere to the social distancing guidance and we were able to in-process 28 new hirers in three sessions.”
The next round of in-processing is scheduled for April 13. To adjust to the evolving COVID-19 situation, CPFT will implement the use of a new virtual in-processing procedure in accordance with updated Air Force Personnel Center and Air Force Material Command guidance.
“The updated 100 percent virtual in-processing allows the 412 TW to onboard new hires via video teleconferencing during the COVID-19 National Emergency Pandemic,” said Lovato. “The new virtual process allows our HR staff to administer the oath of office online and complete critical and federally mandated tasks.”
This new process will allow the local staffing team to continue the 412 TW HR hiring goals while maintaining physical distancing during the national response to COVID-19.
For a list of jobs available at Edwards Air Force Base, visit https://go.usa.gov/xvjeW.