Defense Department plans to shed up to 25,000 civilian employees
The buyouts are aimed at reshaping Defense's civilian workforce, and are capped at $25,000, according to a Dec. 30, 2003 memo from Ginger Groeber, Defense's deputy undersecretary for civilian personnel policy. According to Groeber, 7,722 buyouts will be allotted to the Army; 7,135 to the Navy; 5,873 to the Air Force; and 4,270 to other Defense agencies.
Managers may offer the buyout incentives immediately as long as affected employees plan to leave government service in fiscal year 2004, the memo said. Buyouts offered in connection with base closures will not count toward the 25,000 employeelimit.
The Defense Department may also offer some eligible employees voluntary early retirement incentive pay. Under the new personnel authorities granted by Congress to the Defense Department last year, the department no longer must seek Office of Personnel Management approval to offer voluntary early retirement incentives.
But the total number of employees offered buyouts and early retirement incentives must not exceed 25,000, the memo stated. Employees are eligible for the buyouts only if they were continuously employed with the Defense Department for more than 30 days before the date on which the determination to offer buyouts was approved. The incentives may be used to either restructure or downsize the workforce. Restructuring buyouts may be used to correct skills imbalances or to reduce the number of high grade, managerial or supervisory positions, the memo said. Employees serving under time-limited appointments and employees facing firing for misconduct or poor performance are not eligible.
The memo orders Defense installations to determine and publicize the maximum number of buyouts and early retirements that will be accepted as well as opportunity periods for employees to apply. Agencies may offer employees more than one opportunity to take advantage of the buyouts during the course of the year.
To be eligible for early retirement incentive pay, most employees must have at least 20 years of federal service and be at least 50 years old. Younger employees may be eligible if they have at least 25 years of service. Employees must have worked for the Defense Department for at least one year.
Employees who accept buyouts may not take another position with the federal government or accept a personal services contract for at least five years, or they will be required to repay the buyout pay to the Defense Department. Employees may not return to the Defense Department for a period of at least one year, unless they receive a waiver from the Defense secretary.
Members of the Senior Executive Service and equivalent high-ranking employees are not eligible for buyouts or early retirement incentives unless approved by the deputy undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.