Fedweek

The lead-up to President Trump’s first budget proposal, expected around March 16, has featured a great deal of speculation, but no solid facts so far, of early retirement and buyout offers at agencies facing spending cuts.

The administration has said that it will seek to offset a planned increase in defense spending of $54 billion with equal cuts spread across non-defense spending outside of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, yielding cuts averaging about 10 percent from “non-defense discretionary” spending.

In the early versions of agency-specific budgets that have been reported, those cuts would fall more heavily on agencies such as the EPA, 25 percent, NOAA, 17 percent, and the IRS, 14 percent. Such reductions would translate into job cuts, although not necessarily equal–the 25 percent reduction in spending at EPA, for example, is reported to equate to a 20 percent cut in employment.

Early retirement and buyout incentives might be needed to avoid–or at least minimize–RIFs at such agencies, and the budget proposal to come will be a natural place for the administration to state any intent to use them. The budget also would be a natural vehicle for any proposals to reduce federal employee benefits, as well as, on the positive side, Trump’s recently stated support for paid parental leave.

The initial outlines could be changed before the budget is formally proposed, though, and afterward it would have to go through the annual process in Congress–where opposition already has arisen.