Agencies now have permanent buyout authority

Federal agencies can start offering buyouts of up to $25,000 to their employees, under a regulation issued this week.

The new Office of Personnel Management regulation, published in the Feb. 4 Federal Register, marks the beginning of a new era in buyouts for the federal government. Instead of offering buyouts only when they are downsizing their workforces, federal agency leaders can now offer buyouts during any restructuring. That means agencies don't have to eliminate a position every time they issue a buyout.

In addition, agencies' authority to offer buyouts is now permanent, unlike previous years in which Congress gave agencies only brief windows to offer them. Agencies will now submit plans to the Office of Personnel Management whenever they plan to offer buyouts, rather than first seek legal authority from Congress and then seek approval from the Office of Management and Budget. The permanent legal authority will make it easier for agencies to offer buyouts.

Many federal employees could see buyouts as a result of the change, as agencies across government, from the Homeland Security Department to the Defense Department to the FBI reorganize to deal with changing missions. It's also possible that few agencies will offer the buyouts, since many human resources managers are worried about large numbers of retirements in the coming years, and buyouts encourage people to retire.

Some federal human resources directors have said they would use such buyout authority when certain types of employees' skills are no longer needed by the agency. They could also use the authority to control the flow of retirements and avoid a sudden surge of retirements in a single year.

Under the regulation, OPM officials are requiring extensive written justification before granting buyout authority. Agencies' buyout plans must describe:

  • A list of specific positions and functions that could be eliminated or restructured by geographic location, occupational category, grade level and other factors such as skills and knowledge related to the positions.
  • A description of the types of employees who would be offered buyouts.
  • The period during which buyouts would be paid.
  • The number of buyouts to be offered and the maximum amount of those buyouts.
  • An explanation of how the agency would operate without eliminated or restructured positions.
  • An organizational chart showing what the agency would look like after the buyouts have been issued.
  • A description of how early outs would be used in conjunction with buyouts.

OPM officials will consult with the Office of Management and Budget before approving agencies' plans.

Most federal agencies had buyout authority to downsize their workforces in the mid-1990s. Only a few agencies, most notably the Defense Department, continued to receive buyout authority from Congress to the present. Congress has limited the number of buyouts that the Defense Department can issue each year, but the new buyout authority contains no pre-set limit.

Congress granted the new buyout authority in the law creating the new Homeland Security Department, but applied the authority to most federal agencies.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.