Kristi Blokhin/

EPA Wants 1,200 Employees to Accept Buy Outs, Early Outs

They will have a maximum of six weeks to accept an offer and leave the agency.

The Environmental Protection Agency will attempt to persuade more than 1,200 employees to leave their jobs through separation incentives, according to an internal memorandum.

EPA has not formally sent the early retirement and buyout offers to employees, according to the memo obtained by Government Executive, but it plans to begin the process shortly. The agency has sent its requests for buyouts and early outs to the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget for approval.

While it awaits that decision, EPA has engaged the agency’s labor unions to reach memoranda of understanding that will guide the program’s details. A template for the MOUs included in Tuesday’s note from Robert Coomber, EPA’s senior labor attorney, said employees will generally have at least 30 days to apply for a separation incentive and two weeks to leave once they are approved. EPA will accept a maximum of 1,228 applications across the agency, less than 40 percent of the 3,200 jobs it said it would eliminate in its fiscal 2018 budget request. Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, recently told lawmakers he would use separation incentives, an ongoing hiring freeze and attrition, rather than layoffs, to meet the target.

EPA previously announced it had set aside $12 million for the fiscal 2017 offers.

Agencies can offer up to $25,000 to employees who have worked in the federal government at least three years through a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment and allow employees not otherwise eligible for retirement benefits to receive them through Voluntary Early Retirement Authority. The Office of Personnel Management must approve all early out and buyout programs. OPM has established a team to approve any such requests within 30 days.

EPA has not yet announced what job series or locations will be eligible for the incentives. If more than 1,228 employees apply, EPA will use a formula of their service computation dates minus leave to determine priority. The agency said it will separate all employees approved for the offer by Sept. 2.

Image via Kristi Blokhin/