Guard Chief: Delay Technician Status Law

NGAUS Washington Report

(March 29, 2016) Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Congress to delay a plan that would remove some dual-status technicians from the Guard and make them civilian employees of the federal government.

The plan in the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that is now law would hurt readiness by taking personnel away from the Guard, he said during testimony last week before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“With a 20-percent conversion . . . we are very concerned about the readiness effects as well as the effects on our people,” Grass said. “The Technician Act was passed in 1968, so we feel it’s a good time to review the legislation that put into place that program.”

The governors also oppose the change in status for the technicians, which is to take effect in 2017. In a letter earlier this month, 41 governors told congressional leaders that it would reduce the number of people available for emergencies such as natural disasters.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, support the change and say the technician program has gotten away from the intent of the law passed in 1968.

During his testimony last week, Grass said he was not consulted on the plan before it was inserted in the NDAA a year ago.

“What we really need is a delay right now,” he said. “We have to implement on 1 January of 2017, and we feel we are just not ready without having a huge impact on people and readiness, so we need a delay at least until fiscal year 2018.”