Air Force offers 6,000 civilian employees buyout options

Thousands of civilian employees will have the option of buyouts, the Air Force announced Wednesday.

The voluntary separation incentive payment program will offer eligible employees up to $25,000 to leave their jobs. The Air Force Materiel Command is offering the buyouts in combination with early retirement options. The moves come on the heels of a 90-day civilian hiring freeze announced in August.

Air Force Materiel Command conducted a survey in May to determine if buyouts would be effective.

The Army Materiel Command also is offering buyouts to civilian employees. The reduction efforts are a response to a secretary of Defense efficiency initiative that reduces personnel to fiscal 2010 levels, despite previously planned growth.

In addition, the Air Force is looking for ways to reduce its military personnel, as the number of officers in fiscal 2010 exceeded congressional caps, Federal News Radio reported. But Air Force officials have less authority to reduce troop levels and those cuts could end up being involuntary.

Employees who apply for the buyouts or early retirement and are approved have until Dec. 31 to separate.

"Our goal with these programs is to mitigate the impact of reduced fiscal year 2012 funding on our permanent civilian workforce," Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, Air Force director of force management policy, said in a press release. "Our civilians have been asking about VERA and VSIP options, so we worked to make these voluntary programs available early in the fiscal year."

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