Trump order is for 90 days

Help may be wanted for civilian jobs at Cherry Point, but an order signed by President Donald Trump means hiring won’t be taking place in the short term.

Trump signed an order installing a 90-day federal hiring freeze last week, which will be felt locally at area bases. The freeze will impact federal positions to be filled by civilians.

Supporters of Cherry Point aren’t overly concerned about the temporary freeze.

“It’s a very short-term order,” said Jamie Norment, a member of the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group. “ACT is not concerned at this time. It’s only 90 days. It excludes military personnel but also anyone else who supports those people.”

According to the most recent Cherry Point economic impact statement from 2015, the air station employs 746 civilians, which doesn’t include 628 Marine Corps Community Services civilian employees or 3,390 civilian workers at the Fleet Readiness Center East aircraft repair and maintenance depot.

Jobs will continue to be posted to the USAJobs website, but no offers would be made until a later time, according to Kristal Humphrey, director of Civilian Human Resources Office-East and Marine Corps Installations East at Camp Lejeune. Only tentative job offers will be given to Appropriated Fund positions, she said.

“The hiring freeze will create challenges and may require some shift of workloads among the workforce as well as overtime or compensatory time,” she said. “It is possible that positions that are required to maintain national security and public safety may be exempted, but that decision will be made by the (Department of Defense).”

Until the freeze is lifted and hiring can resume, Humphrey said MCI-East, which includes Cherry Point, Beaufort, S.C., Camp Lejeune and New River, will continue to meet mission requirements as efficiently as possible with the employees already on the payroll.

The freeze won’t affect those contracts or positions already in the process of being filled; however, Humphrey said that the freeze means both that open positions are not able to be filled and that new positions cannot be created.

“The memorandum requires the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Personnel Management to submit a long term plan to reduce the size of the federal government’s workforce through attrition,” she said. “This plan must be submitted within 90 days of the date of the president’s memorandum.”

Norment said more will be known after the 90 days. In the meantime, he plans a trip to Washington, D.C. later this month to consult with legislative staffers.

He said many of ACT’s concerns haven’t change with Trump’s inauguration, despite a tweet he sent in December that questioned the expense of F-35 Lightning II.

“Our concerns are not any different than the concerns we had 12 months ago,” Norment said. “We continue our efforts to grow Cherry Point.”

He mentioned optimism with Trump over a possible end to sequestration in the Department of Defense that could see more money flow to Cherry Point for base construction projects in advance of F-35B basing set for 2022 and 2023.

“Trump has given indications and I think we’ll see that cap lifted,” Norment said. “ACT’s role is to make sure whatever relief comes benefits the Marine Corps and gets to Cherry Point.”

Jacksonville Daily News reporter Sarah Hauck contributed to this story.