Fedweek

The Senate is set to vote this week on an annual defense budget bill (S-2943) that would increase the maximum buyout payment at DoD to $40,000 from the $25,000 level in effect since the government first started offering buyouts in the early 1990s. “This increased maximum amount would adjust for inflation from when VSIP was first authorized,” according to a Senate report that uses the term favored by the Pentagon for buyouts, voluntary separation incentive payments. The Pentagon had asked for the increase, arguing that the amount is no longer a sufficient incentive to convince employees to leave during downsizing or restructuring. The request sought a higher dollar amount government-wide but the Senate language appears to be limited to DoD. However, that is the government’s largest employer, and policies originating there—including buyout authority itself—commonly spread to the rest of the government. The House earlier passed its own version of the bill without addressing the buyout issue. Buyouts have been much less common in recent years compared to the early years of the authority, but the Pentagon said it anticipates using them more in the years ahead as the civilian workforce is restructured and downsized along with military personnel, especially in the Army, and as DoD continues to carry out earlier required reductions in headquarters offices.