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Government’s Publisher Cuts Staff by 5 Percent Through Buyouts

The agency estimates it will save $7 million in fiscal 2015 from trimming workforce.

The Government Publishing Office reduced its workforce by 5 percent by offering employees buyouts between October and December 2014, the agency announced Wednesday.

A total of 103 employees took the buyout offered during the first quarter of fiscal 2015, the agency reported, achieving GPO’s goal of a 5 percent workforce reduction and saving an estimated $7.1 million for the rest of the fiscal year. GPO – which used to be known as the Government Printing Office – now has 1,699 employees. That’s its smallest staff  in the past century, the agency said.

“GPO continues to better position itself to respond to the 21st century digital information needs of Congress, federal agencies and the public,” GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks said. “Reducing costs and improving efficiency in carrying out our mission of keeping [America's] information are ongoing GPO objectives.”

An agency statement said that the personnel reductions “in no way compromise GPO’s ability to carry out mission critical operations, including publishing support for Congress and federal agencies and providing public access to government information.”

The agency announced last summer that it planned to offer buyouts in the fall to reduce its 1,850-person workforce and save money. GPO increasingly has shifted toward digital publishing, phasing out the publication of print products, and culminating in its official name change in December. GPO last offered employees buyouts and early outs in 2011, achieving savings of about $18 million for the remainder of fiscal 2012, and $24 million in fiscal 2013 --the first full year of savings after implementing the incentives.

Buyouts, or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments, are cash incentives of up to $25,000 for eligible employees and can be offered along with an early retirement or separately. To be eligible for a Voluntary Early Retirement Authorization (early out), employees must have 20 years of service and be at least 50 years old, or have at least 25 years of service -- this applies to those covered under the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Buyouts and early outs were not as prevalent last year as they were in 2012 and 2013, when sequestration took effect. The Broadcasting Board of Governors was the rare agency that offered buyouts to employees periodically throughout 2014.

Congress partially repealed the 10-year automatic budget cuts for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, but agencies will be looking for ways to find savings before the reprieve is up. President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal rejects the automatic budget cuts, scheduled to return in full effect on Oct. 1 unless Congress acts.

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