It is uncertain whether and to what extent agencies will use buyouts and early out incentives in the time immediately ahead, a consideration especially for federal employees thinking of retiring late in the calendar year, when retirements annually spike up.

Many employees who already are retirement-eligible have been looking for buyout offers to tilt their decision toward going, and early-out offers can make some employees eligible years earlier than they would be under regular voluntary retirement rules. For their part, agencies often prefer to offer the incentives–the buyouts especially–early in a fiscal year so that they can recoup the upfront cost within that same budget year by not filling the vacancy created.


Buyouts at most agencies can be up to $25,000 pre-tax–at DoD, the maximum is $40,000–and there are administrative costs to agencies for opening a buyout/early out window. However, it appears that agency budgets for the fiscal year that begins Sunday (October 1) won’t be settled at least until December; for the interim, agencies will generally continue to operate at fiscal 2017 levels.

Although agencies in general aren’t facing the immediate fiscal pressures that would have arisen if Trump administration budget proposals had been enacted by this point, agencies separately may use those incentives to downsize under the OMB directive to become more efficient.

Interior, for example, has said it has a pending request at OPM for both authorities, but has not said how widely they would be used, and when, assuming the authority is granted. The EPA already has completed a round of buyout and early out offers while the SSA held a routine annual round of early outs.