More agencies turn to targeted buyouts, early retirements

Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 5:07pm EST

More agencies are turning to targeted buyouts and early retirements to reshape their workforces.

While it's far from the flood of buyout offers that raced through agencies in 2011 and 2012, so far this year, a handful of agencies have announced their plans to offer either Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) and Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA).

While the latest rounds of buyouts and early retirements span agencies as diverse as the Naval Sea Systems Command and the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, one thing many of them have in common is the targeted nature of the offers. In many instances, agencies are targeting offers to employees in specific job areas or agency locations.

USGS plans round of early-retirement offers

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed to Federal News Radio this week the agency has received approval from the Office of Personnel Management offer early retirement through the end of the fiscal year.

In a statement, Veronica Johnson, the agency's acting human resources officer and deputy associate director for human capital, said USGS is offering early retirements to eligible employees to "help reduce overall workforce costs due to bureau budget constraints, sequestration, and continually rising fixed costs for salaries and facilities."

The agency may consider another early-retirement window late this year as well, she said.

Employees who accept the VERA offers must be off the rolls by Sept. 30.

Agencywide, USGS is not offering buyouts (or VSIPs), however some USGS regions and mission areas have submitted independent requests for buyouts, Johnson said.

Bureau of Land Management reshaping IT workforce

The Bureau of Land Management is using both buyout and early-retirement offers to restructure its IT workforce as part of the Interior Department's IT Transformation Initiative.

BLM's early-out offers are targeted to IT services and support employees in the the agency's headquarters and National Operations Center as well as state, district and field offices.

The early-out offers became effective Feb. 10. Interested employees must apply by March 7 and separate between March 23 and April 4.

A BLM spokeswoman said the agency was targeting a total 329 employees for the early-out offers as part of its IT restructuring. During fiscal 2011 and 2012 and 2013, about 60 employees separated under either VERA or VSIP authority. The agency's goal for fiscal 2014 is for another 40 employees to separate.

NAVSEA planning 20 percent headquarters reduction

Naval Sea Systems Command has received approval to offer limited buyout and early- retirement for front office employees — including public affairs, administration and IT — at agency headquarters.

The agency recently surveyed its employees to gauge interest, a spokesman confirmed to Federal News Radio.

All told, the agency's goal is to reduce management headquarters' staff by 20 percent "to reduce overhead costs and to align with broader Defense Department cost-cutting efforts," the spokesman said.

Employees assigned to NAVSEA directorates and program executive offices are not eligible for this round of early outs.

NAVSEA officials are currently analyzing the results of the survey and determine what reductions, if any, will be made. Separation dates will be determined on a case-by-case basis, the spokesman said.

NAVAIR eyes early-outs for 'long-range' staffing plan

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has also been offering waves of both buyouts and early retirements as part of a "long-range workforce strategy."

A NAVAIR spokeswoman confirmed to Federal News Radio that early-outs "will be offered in a strategic manner at various locations across the country based on skill sets as well as current and future work demand."

NAVAIR officials are offering the early-outs in waves based on employees' eligible retirement dates that will continue throughout fiscal 2014. Timelines for when employees need to separate by will be provided once employees have been contacted by HR, the spokeswoman said.

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