To avoid involuntary separations, Air Force to allow employees to fill buyout-created vacancies

Thursday - 4/19/2012, 12:09pm EDT

As part of its workforce reductions, the Air Force is allowing workers who will have their positions cut to choose instead to be transferred to a buyout-created position.

The current round of buyouts/early retirement offers, to begin May 1, is the third by the Air Force in an effort to bring the civilian workforce size to 2010 levels. That translates into a number of positions nearly 9 percent lower than what the Air Force's previous planning had projected.

The deadline of buyout/early out applications for the current round is May 14. If approved, applicants must retire or separate by Aug. 31.

The new flexibility to shift employees to new positions was not part of the earlier rounds of buyouts. This will "rebalance the skills of our workforce into enduring positions," said Michelle LoweSolis, the Air Force Personnel Center's civilian force integration director, in an Air Force release.

In all, the Air Force approved more than 2,800 applications from the previous two rounds of buyouts.

"We're committed to sustaining excellence, meeting fiscal requirements and minimizing negative impacts on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families," LoweSolis said.

The base that is losing an employee must be able to show it saved an employee from involuntary separation in order to allow an employee's transfer, the release said. This ability to restructure the workforce is an exception to the Defense Department's Priority Placement Program clearance procedures.

The Air Force said in an email to Federal News Radio there is no target number for the third round of buyouts. The Air Force approved 1,087 applications in the first round of buyouts last year and about 1,800 applications in the second round earlier this year, the email said. The target for the first round of buyouts was 6,000 employees.

"The Air Force is committed to maximizing the use of voluntary separation incentives within the rules to preclude involuntary actions," according to the email.

Federal News Radio's Jack Moore and Jared Serbu contributed to this story.

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