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Oct 3, 2013 10:59 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Air Force Academy Superintendent explains effects of government shutdown

With over two-thirds of its civilian workers furloughed, the Air Force Academy is feeling the effects of the government shutdown.

Over 1,000 of the academy's 1,500 civilian employees have been furloughed. Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, said the loss of support from civilians has affected operations at almost all levels. Because of the loss of some civilian instructors just about 60 of the 300 courses offered at the academy have been suspended. Even at the most basic level the academy has had trouble, shortly after the shutdown began facilities started running low on cleaning supplies and even toilet paper.

"This is one of those things where in complex organizations we're not always aware at a really high level of who has the contract for the toilet paper, but we found out pretty fast and we fixed it," Lt. Gen. Johnson explained. "I don't mean to take it lightly, there's important things to run operations that you really count on people."

The cadet library, media lab, tutor centers and the commissary have all been closed. Flight training has been canceled indefinitely and the Cadet Chapel has been closed except for Sunday services. Lt. Gen Johnson said staff are working to assign duties to active duty personnel and are doing their best to maintain standards for cadets, but she said she feared cadets may lose their edge without the support of the supposedly "nonessential" personnel who have been furloughed.

"It's unfortunate that there's a bureaucratic term for our colleagues of 'nonessential' because it couldn't be more wrong about what we rely on," Johnson said. "It's an accounting term that we've used, but it certainly does not apply to the worth of our colleagues from very basic things to even grander things."

Air Force Academy sports have also been affected. Thanks to a donation from USAA the football team was allowed to travel to Annapolis to play against the Naval Academy this weekend. However, Lt. Gen. Johnson said that as far as she knew the game may be the last of the season if the shutdown continues.

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