As the peak season for permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves begins, many Sailors are awaiting orders so they and their families can proceed to their next duty stations. However, due to the current fiscal environment and budget constraints, most Sailors will have less time to plan their moves as order release timelines are compressed.
While this timeline isn’t easy on Sailors or their families, it is important for Sailors to understand why that is the case and what we are doing to improve the timeline.
What’s going on?
Due to budgetary pressures and a perennially decreased top line for Navy’s Manpower Account, we knew PCS funds would be tight toward the end of the fiscal year. Consequently, the Navy began to carefully manage the issuance of PCS orders earlier this year, which resulted in shorter lead times for PCS moves. Each year, approximately 66,000 Sailors receive operational, rotational and training orders. The Navy also moves approximately 70,000 Sailors as they are accessed, separate, retire or execute organized unit moves (for homeport changes). Traditionally, operational and rotational moves have averaged three months advance notice for the past several years. However, in some cases this summer, those timelines have been shortened to one month due to budgetary pressure.
What we’re doing?
Navy leadership understands the impact of shortened PCS timelines and the stress this causes Sailors.
As such, we have convened a working group with representatives from throughout the Fleet that are looking at a variety of measures to ensure the Navy is able to maintain current readiness, Fleet manning levels and minimize additional impacts to Sailors as we carefully navigate PCS orders for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The Navy expects the results of this working group will allow Sailors to make planned moves for the remainder of the fiscal year without further reducing orders’ lead times.
However, given the current fiscal constraints, the Navy is prioritizing PCS moves in order to remain within budget. Highest priority moves are those to fill critical gaps at sea, billets for individual augmentees, force protection, humanitarian, safety and overseas billets – they will be issued first. All other orders will be released following a sequenced move schedule to ensure the Fleet is manned properly.
We have released priority one moves (individual augmentee, immediate and OFRP deployers, numbered fleet staffs, overseas billets) and must-moves (safety, early return of dependents, humanitarian) with estimated detach dates through the end of July, and are now working on August orders and beyond.
Also, to help alleviate some pressure, Navy Personnel Command will continue to issue letters of intent for overseas moves. That way, while orders may not be in hand, individuals can start the process of doing overseas and medical screenings, dependent entry approval, passport applications and security clearance requests.
The Navy recognizes that these shortened lead times limit Sailors’ time to prepare for moves, and burdens them and their families.
Leadership is engaged at all levels to develop and implement solutions to minimize the impact to our Sailors. The focus and priority remains on manning the Fleet, and taking care of Sailors and their families.