DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues

Wednesday - 11/25/2009, 11:56am EST

The Agriculture Department is moving forward with its controversial mega-management reorganization and today, USDA officials announced that the agency has received approval from the Office of Personnel Management to move forward with early retirement offers and voluntary separation incentive payments to departmental management employees.

By way of background, USDA has been undertaking a massive reorganization that essentially create a uber-USDA “Departmental Administration” — including operations such as procurement, IT, human resources and finance. You can read the documents and the new organization chart here… and read the USDA statement on the management reorg here.

The full memo about the buy-outs and early-outs is posted below:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has received approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offer voluntary early retirement (VERA-Early Out) and voluntary separation incentive payments (VSIP-Buy Out) to Departmental Management (DM) employees with a Washington D.C. duty station who are (1) eligible for and elect an immediate annuity, either through optional or early retirement and (2) are in one of the covered occupational groups. Retirement eligibles occupying positions in one of the following job categories are eligible to consider the VERA/VSIP options.

- GS-0000 Miscellaneous Occupational Group;
- GS-0200 Human Resources Management Group;
- GS-0300 Administrative, Clerical, and Office Services Group;
- GS-0600 Medical, Hospital, Dental, and Public Health Group;
- GS-1000 Information and Arts Group;
- GS-1300 Physical Sciences Group;
- GS-1600 Equipment, Facilities, and Services Group;
- GS-1700 Education Group;
- GS-1900 Quality Assurance, Inspection, and Grading Group;
- GS-2000 Supply Group; and
- GS-2200 Information Technology Group

Employees selecting the VSIP option are eligible for a lump sum payment of $25,000 (gross) or an amount equal to the employee’s computed severance pay, whichever is less. Since the VSIP is limited to retirement eligibles, the vast majority of the VSIP payments would be at the maximum level of $25,000 gross.

The open period for election of optional retirement with a VSIP or early (VERA) retirement either with or without a VSIP is December 1, 2009, through December 14, 2009. All retirements must be effective no later than January 3, 2010.

OPM has authorized a maximum of 100 VSIP slots. Therefore the first 100 VSIP elections received from DM employees encompassed by the VERA/VSIP authorizations during the open period will be eligible for the VSIP.

The decision to choose any of these options is completely voluntary. In order to provide additional background information on the VERA and VSIP authorizations, the following overview sessions have been scheduled:

- Monday, November 30, at 10 a.m. in Room 107A, Whitten Building; and
- Thursday, December 3, at 10 a.m. in Room 107A Whitten Building…

Please note that an employee who accepts the VSIP offer may not accept reemployment with the Federal Government, either by appointment or a personal services contract for a period of five (5) years, unless the employee repays the entire gross amount of the VSIP to USDA.

All employees who accept an offer of an optional retirement with a VSIP or early retirement with or without a VSIP must complete the enclosed decision form. We have reserved Room 107A from 8:00 a.m. through noon, on Tuesday, December 1, to accept decision forms. After 12:00 p.m. on December 1, 2009, you must return the decision form by fax to the attention of Shelley Pree, Departmental HR Operations Branch, at fax number (301) 504-4883, or you can deliver the form to Ms. Pree directly at the George Washington Carver Center, Room 3-1270. Before faxing the decision form, please e-mail Ms. Pree at Shelley.Pree@ars.usda.gov to alert her of your faxed request. The faxed form will automatically be date-stamped upon receipt. The first 100 decision applications received from DM employees who meet the criteria summarized above will be eligible for a VSIP.

Employees can contact Lisa Carroll at (202) 720-4292 to arrange for retirement counseling. Employees are responsible for completing all necessary paperwork, including Form SF-2801 “Application for Immediate Retirement” (CSRS) or SF-3107 “Application for Immediate Retirement” (FERS) and providing these forms to the Human Resources Division.

Also, enclosed are Questions and Answers to assist you in making this important decision. Please contact Shelley Pree at (301) 504-4428 if you have any further questions.

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