Senior Ellsworth military leaders have begun the process of furloughing 73 percent of its civilian workforce due to the lack of a continuing resolution or appropriations for FY14.
Supervisors are in the process of furloughing 427 of the 582 civilian employees that work on the installation. These 427 employees will be in a temporary non-duty, non-pay status because of lack of funds.
"We are in the midst of an emergency furlough – which may have severe and disruptive financial impact on our civilian workforce – and impact the ability of the base to accomplish its mission," said Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander.
Kennedy hosted a town hall meeting at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 to provide base personnel with information about the potential government shutdown, explaining how it would impact operations at Ellsworth.
"The government shutdown has raised many questions for Team Ellsworth," Kennedy said. "We are working hard to ensure those questions are answered to reduce the anxiety this is causing, and provide them with a better understanding of how things will continue to operate."
Due to the government shutdown, activities that are not expressly authorized by statute, necessary to discharge presidential powers, or considered necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property, including operations essential to our national security, will be discontinued and the civilians employed to accomplish these functions will be furloughed until an appropriation bill or CR is enacted.
"Examples of essential activities include operations authorized by deployment orders, such as operations in Afghanistan, responses to emergencies, child care activities required for readiness and military healthcare," Kennedy said.
The government shutdown will curtail B-1 flying operations at Ellsworth, while MQ-9 Reaper missions being conducted by the 432nd Attack Squadron will continue.
While the full impact on Ellsworth is not fully known, officials noted that healthcare in the private sector care under TRICARE will continue, as will inpatient, acute and emergency outpatient care in the base's medical/dental treatment facilities. Permanent change of station activities already underway will continue until completion, although new actions will not be initiated unless in support of an excepted activity as defined by the Secretary of Defense.
Services and programs at the base child development center, youth center, Bellamy Fitness Center and base dining facility will remain unchanged except for a few minor alterations.
"The Child Development Center will provide service to the families who are currently enrolled, and priority levels remain unchanged as single/dual military have priority," said Maj. Matthew Farley, 28th Force Support Squadron deputy director. "The School Age Care Program at the Youth Center will continue to operate, however the Open Recreation Center and Teen Center will be combined and will close 30 minutes early at 5:30 p.m."
Farley added that the base commissary will be open Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., then close until further notice. The Exchange will continue normal operating hours.