The EPA has said that it will keep a general hiring freeze in place despite the government-wide freeze having been lifted, and that it plans to offer early retirement and buyout incentives in the months ahead.
While EPA is not the first major agency to announce a continued freeze–the State Department earlier said it is doing the same–it is the first to commit to offering early retirement and buyout incentives. “Our goal is to complete this program by the end of FY 2017,” the agency said in a memo.
The memo did not further specify the terms of the planned offer, including whether offers will be made to all employees or just to certain categories, or when they are projected to start or end.
Employees of many agencies have been looking expectantly for such offers in light of the Trump administration’s commitment to reducing the federal workforce, stated in the initial hiring freeze memo, a preliminary budgetary proposal that followed, and a more recent government-wide reform plan with an explicit goal of cutting jobs.
In the budget plan, EPA was the hardest-hit agency, with the administration calling for a budget cut of nearly a third, which would translate into a cut of 3,200 positions, about a fifth of the agency’s workforce. A more detailed plan is expected in the weeks ahead and will be subject to change by Congress.