Education considers buyouts

This story has been updated.

The Education Department is deciding whether or not to offer buyouts to employees, according to a spokesman.

Education currently is considering whether to join a growing list of federal agencies, including the Agriculture Department, in offering buyouts to employees to help reshape their workforces amid budget pressures. "We haven't made any definitive decisions about whether we are going to offer additional buyouts down the line, but we are making some decisions now on that," spokesman David Thomas said in a voicemail.

Thomas said the department will make a decision "no later than early next quarter." The next quarter starts on July 1.

Education last offered departmentwide buyouts and early outs in December 2010. In late 2009, the department offered buyouts to employees in its Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services.

Buyouts, or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments, are cash incentives of up to $25,000 for employees.

Earlier this month, the Government Printing Office announced its plans to ask lawmakers and the Office of Personnel Management for permission to offer buyouts and early outs to its 2,200 employees, with the goal of decreasing its overall workforce by 15 percent and thinning its managerial ranks by 25 percent.

Agriculture in May won OPM approval to offer early outs to most employees and buyouts for 544 positions. The U.S. Postal Service and Smithsonian Institution also are offering voluntary separation packages, and the Air Force Materiel Command in May started gauging civilian workers' interest in potential buyouts.

Not all agencies are taking that approach, however. A spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Department earlier this month said VA has no plans to offer buyouts or early outs to employees this year.

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