Mid-year sequestration budget cuts hit the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center hard, and next year could be difficult because of the “unbelievable uncertainty” about the budget, a top Air Force leader said.
Air Force Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, commander of the center headquartered at Wright-Patterson, spoke Wednesday to more than 120 people at a Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association meeting at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center.
The Life Cycle Management Center has absorbed a $2.4 billion reduction and furloughed 13,000 civil service employees around the world forced to take 11 unpaid furloughs days one day a week. That will amount to a loss of 1.3 million work hours, according to Air Force statistics.
“You do the best you can to triage (and) to mitigate, but you don’t replace that,” he said.
The Life Cycle Management Center marked one-year in existence when the Air Force Materiel Command reorganized into five major centers and shed about 1,000 mostly civilian management jobs to cut $100 million in costs.
The lieutenant general described his first year in charge as “exciting,” but also “stressful” and “uncertain” because of budget woes.
“Unbelievable uncertainty” lingers over “what the budget is going to be,” so much so he said he did not know until the past few weeks if the center would have the money to pay its electric bills through the end of the year, he said.
“It’s frustrating when you read that sequestration has not had any impact,” he said. “I’m living it. You’re living it.”
Despite fiscal constraints, the center has had a “revolution in acquisition and product support,” he said. With 26,000 employees at a total of 77 sites, the center manages the “cradle to grave” needs of Air Force aircraft, engines, electronics, munitions and cyber equipment.
“We’ve come a long ways in 12 months,” he said. “We have a long ways to go.”
Among the reforms, the center has put one person in charge of a program instead of several managers over different parts of the same program, he said.
But some of the same issues face the Air Force as its aircraft grow increasingly older. The rising cost to maintain weapon systems has chipped away plans to modernize the fleet, he said.
“If we don’t control our weapon systems support cost, we are not going to have money to modernize,” the former fighter pilot said.
Dayton Defense Executive Director Deborah Gross said sequestration has meant the loss of jobs and the withholding of federal contract awards. She called on Miami Valley defense contractors to offer examples of how the cuts have impacted their businesses.
Eventually, the budget cuts will affect every business in the community, she said.
“It may not have affected you yet, but it will,” she said. “What we need is some order put to the chaos. It’s the uncertainty that’s the big issue.”