LITTLE ROCK — A change in federal regulations will cost the jobs of more than half of the state employees at the Arkansas National Guard center where all support personnel for National Guard posts nationwide are trained, a Guard spokesman said Friday.
The Arkansas Military Department this week informed 117 civilian employees at the National Guard Professional Education Center at Camp Robinson that their jobs will be eliminated within 12-18 months, according to Maj. Chris Heathscott said.
Under a 2010 regulation adopted by the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., state employees will no longer perform tasks that solely support Guard operations, Healthscott said.
The personnel who will lose their jobs are housekeepers, bus drivers, administrative personnel, data clerks, "the stuff that purely support (the center’s) ongoing operations," he said.
"Since that’s purely a federal mission, you can’t use state employees for that. We had to bid those contracts out," Healthscott said.
Fifty-six other state employees at the center will not be affected because their jobs are to maintain the state-owned facility, he said.
Some of the employees who will lose their jobs have worked at the center for 20 years or more, Heathscott said.
The center, established in 1974, trains about 25,000 Guard personnel annually at Camp Robinson. The operation provides 550 full-time positions — not all of them state jobs — and has an annual budget of about $50 million.
Historically, the Arkansas Military Department has supported the facility with the use of state civilian personnel through a cooperative agreement in which the state provides workers and gets reimbursed with federal funds, Healthscott said.
Under the new regulation, federal funds will no longer be available to reimburse the state for workers who solely support Guard operations, he said.
"As sad as it is, there’s no money to fund those positions, so those positions will have to go away," Heathscott said. "The Arkansas Military Department is working with the state Office of Personnel Management and the Office of WorkForce Services to try to help find the best way forward. The individuals can be placed on a list so if other positions become available, they’re in line. But there’s no guarantee."
OPM Administrator Kay Terry was not in her office Friday afternoon and an operator said no one else in her office was authorized to speak to the media.