The federal hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump on Jan. 23 is beginning to affect civilian hiring in the Air Force. The hiring freeze “applies to all executive departments and agencies regardless of their operation and program funding,” according to an Air Force Personnel Center release. While military personnel were excluded from the executive order, USAF will issue a “pending status” to all civilians who were given job offers before Jan. 22 but were not scheduled to begin work until after Feb. 22. Also, AFPC is no longer “accepting recruit/fill actions” as of Feb. 7, which means Air Force civilian positions are no longer being announced on federal websites. Exceptions to this policy are allowed in order “to meet national security mission” requirements, according to the release, but all exemptions require the signature of the Secretary of the Air Force. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said that civilians “work in places like our depots or on our flight lines. And if we can’t hire, then that has a direct impact to readiness.” While he was confident the Air Force can get “the procedures in place to move through this,” he expressed concerned that the freeze might “slow down the hiring” in critical areas like maintenance.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.