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Almost 1,200 civilians work at the post now. The goal is to reduce that by 97 positions by Oct. 1, 2012.

Anticipating budget cuts, Drum culls its workforce

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As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down and the federal government prioritizes reining in expenses, Fort Drum is anticipating a 10 to 15 percent cut in its budget in fiscal year 2012, which begins this October. To save money, the Army post is looking to cull its civilian workforce over the next year. Joanna Richards reports.

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Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

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Right now, Fort Drum is looking to use voluntary early retirement incentives, attrition and a freeze on most external hiring to cut its workforce over the next year.

Almost 1,200 civilians work at the post now. The goal is to reduce that by 97 positions by Oct. 1, 2012. That's close to the natural turnover rate – but it does mean fewer jobs.

Deputy to the Garrison Commander, Michael McKinnon, says most of the workforce reductions will come from Fort Drum's police:

"Ten years ago, before 9/11, we had a very small military contingent of police on the installation, and since then we've grown – the Army has actually assigned a lot of military police to the installation who have picked up and will continue to pick up a lot of the missions that the D.A. civilian police have performed in the past."

McKinnon says of 57 early retirement deals offered in the past month, 27 workers accepted the offer. The post is also reviewing its contracts in a variety of areas to reduce expenses, and will look into supplies and administration as well. McKinnon says Fort Drum hopes to reach its goal and avoid any layoffs of its workers.

Another recent change, in housing policy, will also help Fort Drum cut expenses. For the past five years, Fort Drum paid moving expenses for soldiers and families opting in to new on-post housing. The idea was to bring people living in local homes onto post as new housing units were built. The new housing is now full, so the Army will stop paying expenses for local moves. That will save Fort Drum up to a million dollars a year. 

"The whole goal really is to settle the families into housing on post when they get here if it's available," McKinnon says, "if not, then to help them find a suitable home off the installation where they can settle in during their tour here, whether it be two years, three years or whatever."

Reducing moves reduces expenses, and stress for military families as well as the local community. The new housing policy wasn't driven by budget considerations, McKinnon says, but along with the workforce reductions, it should help to save Fort Drum some significant money.

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