Buyout season winding down

Friday - 3/16/2012, 2:00am EDT

If you are playing hard to get, waiting for just the right moment or hoping for something better than a $25,000 buyout, you may want to revisit your exit strategy.

The month of March has (with some exceptions) generally been the end of buyout season in the federal government. Agencies save the most money by getting people off the payroll early in the fiscal year which starts Oct. 1. Some delayed buyouts because Congress (for the 15th year in a row) failed to approve all agency budgets on time.

So far this year, 10 agencies have offered buyouts and early-outs to employees. They are expected to continue in the U.S. Postal Service as it downsizes, but become scarce in most other places.

IRS this week notified employees that its five-month long buyout/early retirement program is over. Starting last year, the IRS offered three rounds of buyouts aimed primarily at its business units. Congress made big cuts in the IRS budget. Critics say that will increase the workload of employees and decrease by billions of dollars, revenue needed by (and rightfully owed to) Uncle Sam.

Buyout Bottom Line: If you are ready, willing and able to retire and you have cash on hand don't hesitate if a buyout offer comes along. It may be the last for a while.

Online privacy

Federal and military personnel whose job or rank requires them to file financial disclosure forms may find that very personal data posted on the internet. A requirement that the information be made public is part of the STOCK Act bill (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) that's been passed by the House. The purpose of the legislation is to stop members of Congress from using insider knowledge to become millionaires during their time as humble servants of the voters.

The Federal Times estimates that "at least" 28,000 senior federal and military personnel would have to post their financials if one version of the bill becomes law. Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, said her group is worried that criminals could use the information for identify theft purposes. She was our guest on this week's Your Turn radio show. To hear the entire show, click here.

TSP by the numbers

With 4.5 million participants, the federal Thrift Savings Plan is the largest employer-sponsored 401(k) plan around. As of last year it was worth nearly $300 billion and growing. Since Congress OK'd automatic enrollment for new hires, 85 percent of employees in the FERS retirement program are participating in the TSP. FERS workers who contribute at least 5 percent get a matching 5 percent tax- deferred contribution from the government.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

Did you know March is Frozen Food Month? At least according to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association. The first national recognition of TV dinners was a 1984 proclamation from President Ronald Reagan. Swanson introduced the first TV dinner in 1954, and it took about 25 minutes to prepare, NPR's food blog reports.


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