Buyouts, Round Two: Don't Hold Your Breath

Buyouts, Round Two: Don't Hold Your Breath



n October, the IRS became one of the first agencies to propose an employee buyout plan under a new window opened by Congress in a fiscal 1997 appropriations measure.

The new program allows payments between Oct. 1, 1996, and Dec. 31, 1997. But it may entice fewer people to leave government than left in the first round of buyouts, because agency heads now can offer less than $25,000 to employees.

In addition, agencies must cut one job and pay the government's retirement fund an amount equal to 15 percent of basic pay for every buyout recipient.

Pending approval by Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, IRS employees facing layoffs were to be eligible for buyouts up to $25,000 starting Nov. 18. The program was to end Jan. 3. IRS hopes buyouts will help it absorb a $342 million 1997 budget cut and staff reductions that could total more than 2,000 positions. Under a deal brokered with the National Treasury Employees Union, the agency agreed to pay moving expenses for employees agreeing to transfer or take lower-paying positions.

To qualify for buyouts under new guidelines in OMB Bulletin 97-02, employees must:

  • Have been employed for at least three years, not just one as under the last buyout round;
  • Have not received a recruiting or relocation bonus in the last two years;
  • Not be within a year of the separation date on a retention allowance;
  • Not be finishing additional service required for a deferred buyout awarded during the last round;
  • Not be holding a pink slip for misconduct or unacceptable performance;
  • Have neither received nor repaid a previous buyout;
  • Not be eligible for disability retirement;
  • Not have statutory re-employment rights on transfer to a different federal organization.