Air Force to offer 3rd round of buyouts, early retirements

Friday - 3/23/2012, 6:50pm EDT

The Air Force is hoping the third time will be the charm in its efforts to trim its civilian workforce, announcing Friday a third round of buyouts and early retirements.

The service plans to begin offering Voluntary Early Retirements and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments beginning May 1. Applications will be due by May 14 and those approved will need to leave by Aug. 31.

The Air Force is under a mandate to keep civilian staffing at 2010 levels as part of a fiscal-year 2012 civilian workforce restructuring.

"The Air Force recognizes the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce, but also recognizes the fiscal constraints under which the Department of Defense and the government as a whole are operating," said Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, the director of force management policy.

Latest round focuses on 'fine tuning' force

Staffing levels are "near" the required targets, Dunbar added, and the latest round of early-outs amounts to "fine tuning the force while taking care to minimize the effect on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families."

The Air Force kicked off the last round of buyouts and early retirements in January, following the end of a three-month civilian hiring freeze. The first round of buyouts, announced in September, targeted some 6,000 employees.

"We are committed to maximizing voluntary separation measures to preclude involuntary actions," Dunbar said. "However, as we progress toward the end of the fiscal year, it is apparent some bases will need to rebalance the skills of their workforce into other enduring positions."

The efforts to rebalance its workforce could include reductions-in-force, according to an Air Force release, to "determine placements rights into enduring vacancies as well as providing the flexibility to waive qualifications for more placements."

The release stated Air Force bases will be begin preparing requests to use RIF procedures "so as to have their employees realigned to the continuing positions" by the end of the fiscal year.

For a list of all federal agencies offering buyouts and early retirements in 2012, check out Federal News Radio's 2012 Buyout Guide.

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