The administration has proposed increasing the maximum value of buyout payments to $40,000 government-wide from the $25,000 maximum that hasn’t risen since those incentives began in the mid-1990s.
A move to raise the limit for all agencies was anticipated since last year when Congress raised the cap to that higher amount for DoD; changes in personnel policies applying to DoD often serve as test cases for applying the same policies government-wide. Further, the Trump administration’s budgetary proposal in May sought to raise the maximum to $40,000 for the State Department as well, hinting of a potential broader intent.
The latest proposal — which also calls for increasing the amount by inflation annually after the initial boost — came in a set of recommendations from the Defense Department for the annual DoD authorization bill. While that bill sets the budget and policies for that department, it often carries provisions that apply government-wide — in part because that is one of the few bills virtually guaranteed to pass each year.
Both the House and Senate have drafted their own versions of the bill and the only language referencing buyouts in those initial versions is in the House bill — it would extend the already existing higher limit at DoD for another three years, through fiscal 2021. However, there is time for amendments as the bills go through floor voting and then a conference. Also, the language could be attached to some other legislation.
In first seeking the higher amount in a similar request last year, the Pentagon said that since the $25,000 cap first was set, a buyout would have to be more than $47,000 to keep up with inflation or more than $42,000 to keep up with salary growth, but it rounded down its request to that figure.