Management of Incentive Offers Questioned

Several House members have written to OPM questioning how early retirement and buyout offers at the SBA were managed by OPM and that agency, raising concerns that could apply to other agencies using those incentives in the time ahead.

The letter was spurred by an IG report, later examined at a House hearing, finding that a round of offers there in 2014 “achieved few, if any, of its planned goals”–such as improving its workforce’s skills mix–and that a third of the positions vacated were filled without any type of restructuring. The letter further pointed to testimony by an SBA official that OPM had not sufficiently reviewed the plan before approving the incentives and that the agency had not complied with restrictions on filling the vacancies created.

“Clearly, in this case OPM failed to conduct due diligence of the information received from SBA and failed to conduct the proper oversight of SBA implementation” of the incentives, the letter said, saying that for any future requests–such as those related to agency reform plans now in their final drafting stages under an OMB requirement–OPM must ensure that agency programs live up to their stated goals.

It asked for a description of OPM’s review and approval process; what steps it takes to ensure an agency follows through with offers consistent with those plans; what OPM does to enforce compliance; and how it ensures that agency-provided information is accurate and complete.

A separate IG report on a round of offers at the EPA in 2014 raised similar issues.