Buyouts, Early Outs Taking Shape at First Agency Offering Them

The amount of money that the EPA plans to set aside to pay buyout and early retirement incentives for employees to leave voluntarily in the face of a planned downsizing might be enough to cover only a portion of the jobs it projects to eliminate.

An internal budget memo now in wide circulation shows that the agency plans to devote $12 million in current year funding to pay for the incentives. The EPA has said it wants to complete the process by the end of the current fiscal year September 30, although it has not specified when it would open the buyout/early out window.

An IG report issued earlier this year on the 2014 round of buyouts and early outs at that agency found that it cost $11.3 million–plus another $4.9 million in the value of payments for unused annual leave–to entice 456 employees to leave. That is far below the staff cut of about 3,000 that the Trump administration has projected. Although that projection is based only on a budget plan for next fiscal year that faces an uncertain future in Congress, the EPA decided to begin downsizing in the current year.

If the upcoming round of incentives falls well short of job reduction goals, the agency might be compelled to turn to RIFs.

The EPA so far remains the only agency to have definitely announced plans for the incentives, although others are expected to follow suit.