A House Small Business Committee hearing on the results of a round of buyout and early retirement offers at the Small Business Administration could send a cautionary signal to other agencies considering using the authorities, the panel has said.
The hearing focused on a recent report by the SBA inspector general concluding that the 2014 offers made only limited progress toward helping the agency reorganize itself for greater efficiency—a commonly cited reason why agencies might want to turn to those authorities in response to Trump administration initiatives.
Early retirement and buyout offers “are supposed to help agencies restructure and reshape their workforces. Yet, SBA’s workforce was left almost completely unchanged,” chairman Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said in a statement. “It did not address workforce competency and agency skill gaps. It did not decrease the average age of the agency’s workforce. It did not address budgetary constraints to avoid a reduction in force.”
In addition, the offers did not prove to be as popular with employees as might be imagined: of the 300 employees eligible for both types of offer, only 149 accepted—even though with an average age of 51, the SBA workforce is older than the government-wide figure of 47, and a quarter of employees already were eligible to retire at the time of the offers.
A summary from the committee also cited a recent IG report that concluding that a 2014 round of buyouts and early outs at the EPA—an agency that coincidentally was the first to commit to making such offers this year—also did not achieve its goals. The summary says the experiences of those two agencies serve as a “cautionary tale to other agencies seeking to restructure their workforces through the VERA-VSIP option in the near future.”