Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Pay and Benefits Watch: Millionaires and buyouts

ARCHIVES
letters@govexec.com

Who wants to be a millionaire? Would you settle for $25,000?

While John Carpenter, an IRS collection agent from Connecticut, is counting up the $1,000,000 he won on ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" last month, a select number of other federal employees could be offered buyouts worth up to $25,000 without answering any trivia questions.

Regis Philbin may be more generous than Congress, but lawmakers this year did agree to make it a bit easier on federal employees facing continued downsizing by offering several agencies buyout authority. Other agencies already have such authority.

The Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, signed by President Clinton on Tuesday, gave the Veterans Affairs Department buyout authority for a limited number of positions. VA can offer buyouts of up to $25,000 to as many as 4,400 employees in the Veterans Health Administration, 240 workers in the Veterans Benefits Administration, 45 employees in VA staff offices and 15 workers in the National Cemetery Administration.

VA's buyout authority expires on Dec. 31, 2000.

The Agency for International Development also received buyout authority until Dec. 31, 2000 in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress in late November (H.R. 3194).

Employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Central Office West divisions who voluntarily resign or retire before Dec. 31, 1999 are also eligible for buyouts under H.R. 3194. And the bill extended buyout authority for the Railroad Retirement Board until March 31, 2000.

The fiscal 2000 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill included buyout authority for the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration until Jan. 1, 2003, and for the Chicago Financial Center of Treasury's Financial Management Service until Jan. 31, 2000.

The same bill gives the General Services Administration the authority to offer buyouts to employees of warehouses and other parts of the Federal Supply Service that GSA is considering closing down until April 30, 2001.

Congress this year also extended several other agencies' buyout authority. The Defense Department can now offer buyouts until Sept. 30, 2003 under the fiscal 2000 Defense authorization bill. The same bill extended the Energy Department's buyout authority until Jan. 1, 2003.

Other agencies that have buyout authority from previous sessions of Congress include the Agriculture Department (only up to $10,000), the IRS, NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Architect of the Capitol, the Government Printing Office, and the Bonneville Power Administration.

An agency has to offer an employee or group of employees a buyout before they can sign up. An employee can't just call and request a buyout.

It's also a bit tricky to figure out which agencies in addition to the ones listed above have buyout authority. The Office of Personnel Management, which handles early retirement regulations, does not deal directly with buyouts. Instead, the Office of Management and Budget approves agencies' buyout plans. But OMB maintains no central record of buyout authorities, a spokesman said. When asked for a list of agencies with buyout authorities, OMB faxed an excerpt from a recent Federal Diary column by Mike Causey of The Washington Post.

OPM, in 1996, did publish an employees' guide to buyouts, which is available on the OPM Web site. Agencies' buyout rules vary because different pieces of legislation creating the buyout authorities varies, but the guide offers a good introduction to the basics of buyouts.

For federal employees whose agencies are not offering buyout authority, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" will be returning to ABC next year. Until then you can watch a clip of the IRS' John Carpenter winning $1 million on ABC's Web site.

Brian Friel is founder of One Nation Analytics, an independent research, analytics and consulting firm for the federal market.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

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