Special Message from Commodore Dever: Government Shutdown

NOGI-Notes of General Interest
16 JANUARY 2019

UPDATE: Clarification of Policy During Government Shutdown
Please read completely and carefully.


USCG Auxiliary District 5NR Members,

Since the L2 titled “UPDATE: CONTINUING AUXILIARY OPERATIONS DURING THE LAPSE IN APPROPRIATIONS” was issued Friday night, I have received many questions. I have worked with our national leadership through Deputy National Commodore(DNACO) Gus Formato and the Coast Guard through our Director LCDR Victoria Taylor and can now offer the following clarifications about USCG Auxiliary activities that are permitted during the current partial government shutdown:

We cannot do anything operational on the water or in the air except in-port watch standing. Division and Flotilla Changes of Watch and District D-Trains may take place, but only with 100% Auxiliary funding. Uniforms may be worn. Active Duty funds may not be used. USCG Active Duty and Reserve members and civilian employees may not attend. Flotilla and Division Commanders should  make decisions about whether to hold a Change of Watch Ceremony, reschedule, or wait to decide until the government shutdown has ended, based on their own unit’s specific situation.
We may operationally support USCG Active Duty if we are specifically requested to do so and that request will have to be coordinated between the OIA and LCDR Taylor. 
  AUX can also go back to administrative work and watch standing at Coast Guard units as long as there is no travel cost. Expenses such as travel that are normally reimbursed will not be reimbursed now or retroactively. 
  The Auxiliary Sector Coordinator (ASC) can work at Sector, the watch standers can work at Sector or they can be on a cutter in-port but not underway. In-port is considered low risk; underway risk is too high.
  DTRAIN is permitted to take place but no funding will come from the Coast Guard. Only Auxiliary funds can be used. No active duty participation is permitted. We will assume and hope for the best and ask all members to sign-up for DTRAIN. Your EXCOM will keep you informed.
  Division, flotilla and district meetings can take place in uniform.
  Uniforms can be worn for AUX activities and for travel to and from AUX activities.
  Auxiliarists have insurance coverage in accordance with the AUXMAN.
Here are some facts about AUX coverage:

Assignment to Duty is based on the law that created the Auxiliary and how members doing Auxiliary missions fall under the umbrella of law as “volunteer” Federal employees.
 
The Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) law ensures that when AUX are doing Auxiliary work—aka “Assigned to Duty”—AUX would be eligible for care and compensation in case of injury or accident while “Assigned to Duty,” just as other federal employees are covered while working. Basically, if you are “Assigned to Duty” and are injured, you are covered under FECA. The key is while “Assigned to Duty.”
 
While the Coast Guard will help in the process of a claim, it is the Department of Labor and Department of Justice that are the authorities in approving claims.
 
Regarding Travel to and from Meetings and Assignment to Duty: 
Federal Employees are not covered by FECA for any injuries sustained traveling to and from work. This same principle of FECA also applies to Auxiliarists—AUX are not covered going to and from regular flotilla or division meetings, since those are considered “place of work.” Can offering training at our unit meeting reclassify the meeting as a “training event” and therefore enable FECA coverage? No. Federal Employees have training at their workplace but that does not enable coverage under FECA when going to work that day. Same goes for AUX.

Tom
Thomas J. Dever, District Commodore
District 5 – Northern Region
US Coast Guard Auxiliary
483 Brinton Lake Road, Thornton, PA 19373
Cell: 610-368-0262
tdever@deverarchitects.com

 
For convenience here is the referenced L2:                                  
UPDATE: CONTINUING AUXILIARY OPERATIONS DURING THE LAPSE IN APPROPRIATIONS
Vice Admiral D.B. Abel, Deputy Commandant for Operations, has issued an ALCOAST relating to Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary operations during the current lapse in appropriations. Coast Guard Auxiliary activities are addressed as follows:
“Auxiliary operational activities may only be performed if it is specifically ordered by a Coast Guard order issuing authority in direct support of an excepted function.  This is primarily limited to urgent SAR, ATON outages, and security threats. Auxiliary volunteer activities such as district, flotilla/division meetings, recreational boating safety outreach, and public education, may proceed in accordance with the Auxiliary Manual COMDTINST M16790.1 (series) as long as there is no obligation of Coast Guard funds.”

Exempt missions are defined in the Coast Guard Financial Resources Management Manual, COMDTINST M7100.3 (series) Chapter 6 subsection 6.4.2.  Such missions in which the Auxiliary may participate on specific orders are limited to the following: Search and Rescue (SAR), Aids to Navigation Port and Environmental Safety Commercial Vessel Safety (CVS) Marine Environmental Response (MER) . To be clear on the issue of funding for non-operational activities such as unit meetings, Coast Guard Auxiliary financial resources only, which include the financial resources of Auxiliary units, may be expended in furtherance of the activities authorized by the ALCOAST. No Coast Guard funds will be available for reimbursement of any expenses incurred in the performance of non-operational activities. In the event you are ordered to execute an ordered excepted function, standard reimbursement will be made by the Coast Guard when the funding hiatus is lifted.

As previously notified through the Leadership Link message of 22 December 2018, we may continue to take advantage of all of the electronic devices at our disposal to communicate in furtherance of the business of the Auxiliary. We are also allowed to conduct meetings and elections by electronic means following the guidance set forth in the Auxiliary Manual and the Appendix to the unit’s Standing Rules if the unit has adopted an Appendix similar to the template found on the Auxiliary Chief Counsel’s website. We may do those things as long as no cost to the Coast Guard is involved. Coast Guard Auxiliary resources may be expended in pursuit of those activities.

Respectfully,
Larry L. King
National Commodore
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary”
Additional Information
Support for the Gold Side
Many local units are organizing Support Drives for the Coast Guard Active Duty & Reserves. Most are accepting non-perishable items such as canned goods, pasta, rice, black beans, toilet paper, canned meat/tuna, cooking oil, peanut butter, jelly, baby diapers, juices, etc. It is strongly suggested that these efforts be organized at the Division level in coordination with specific Active Duty Units—please go through the Auxiliary Sector Coordinator or the Auxiliary Unit Liaison Officers for each unit. We are looking to provide relief not add to the confusion so please, let’s demonstrate to our Gold Side Shipmates our most considerate and organized capabilities. Cash donations are not encouraged at this time and will require very careful oversight and management. Further clarification is pending. 

MEMBER AWARDS
To assure that recommendations for awards to be considered for presention at the Spring DTRAIN, please adhere to the following award submission deadlines:
Awards requiring signature by Admiral—PAST Due (Deadline was 11 January 2019)
Awards requiring signature by DIRAUX—Due 08 February 2019


These are hard and fast deadlines; they must be followed exactly. It is vital that adequate time be provided to the DIRAUX office for the preparation of awards. Award recommendations submitted past the due dates will be held for presentation at events other than DTRAIN e.g. Division meetings, Changes of Watch, Flotilla meetings, etc. Templates are available on the National website and the D5NR website. Type “awards” in the search blank and you will see several publications that deal with the awards process. The District’s Special Project Officer for Awards and Recognition is Bill Turner. Route your awards nominations through your Chain of Leadership—the Chain will forward the nomination to Bill Turner once the award has been vetted. In addition, you can contact COMO KC Murphy, for assistance in writing awards.

Electronic Meeting Options for Any Time
It is always in our best interests to make full use of the resources available to all of us. Looking for greater efficiency and cost-savings to benefit our members should always be a priority. In that light we strongly suggest that you implement a teleconference service for your unit. Teleconferencing only requires that the member have a telephone so it relies upon very familiar light weight technology. Teleconferncing is cheap, easy and convenient.

FREE Teleconferencing For YOUR Unit
There are several companies offering FREE teleconferencing. Every unit should have its very own teleconference number that you can use any time for group calling—perfect for committees, organizing patrols conducting meetings. It takes just a few minutes to set up. Many services provide free recording of your meeting for recording minutes (do make sure that everyone on the call is aware that the conference call is being recorded). We’ve included three of the highest rated services for your consideration. While the service is FREE, usually the dial-in number is a long distance call (which may well be covered under your members’ phone plans). Timing your teleconferences after 1900h (7pm) frequently provides free or reduced rates from phone carriers.  
www.freeconference.com
www.freeteleconference.com

www.freeconferencecall.com


SEMPER PARATUS!