Federal Manager's Daily Report

The IG’s office at the EPA, in a look at itself, has that a round of buyout and early retirement offers in 2014 suffered from “weak management controls.”

The buyout/early out sought to increase the numbers of staff per supervisor, obtain staff with new skill sets, eliminate surplus positions, reduce the number of employees and save costs, said a report. OPM granted authority to use the incentives to abolish up to 40 positions out of a total staff of about 330 at the time.

However, 11 of the 23 employees who ultimately received buyout payments weren’t in positions on the plan OPM approved–accounting for $347,000 of the $859,000 total cost, including payments for unused annual leave at separation. That happened because the office that operated the program had weak controls for verifying that those who received and accepted offers were on that plan and because higher-level management did not sufficiently oversee that office, the report said.

Further, none of the positions vacated were abolished as the plan promised, said the report, nor did the IG achieve its goals of reducing surplus positions, upgrading skill sets or delayering its workforce.

The IG had issued a similarly critical report of wider buyout and early retirement offers in the agency as a whole during the same period. The EPA recently completed another round, with employees who accepted needing to separate within the upcoming weeks.