There’s been an update in the ongoing saga of the EPA “buyout” program which was announced earlier this year (though it immediately spread to other departments). In order to facilitate the cutbacks at the agency, they originally announced that various packages were being put together to “convince” some of the government workers to leave. These included early retirement options far in advance of when they should have qualified and significant cash buyouts of up to $25K for those who had only been there for a few years.
It wasn’t just the EPA either. The same thing was happening at other executive branch agencies. We later learned that the initial talks had hit a rocky patch and the agency was working with the unions to develop memorandums of understanding in an effort to “persuade workers to leave their jobs.” (Wait… what?) That was enough to enrage many in the private sector who learned about it, so clearly the government saw the need for a correction. And what was that, you might ask? Why, they decided to up the incentives to get people to leave. (Government Executive)
The Trump administration has asked Congress to increase the amount agencies can offer employees for early retirement from $25,000 to $40,000 as it gears up for major workforce reductions in some agencies.
An Office of Management and Budget spokesperson confirmed that the Defense Department made the request to Congress last month. In the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress approved a one-year pilot program allowing for a maximum $40,000 buyout for civilian defense employees through the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment program.
The annual defense authorization bill for fiscal 2018 (H.R.2810) is slated to receive a floor vote in the House later this week. The bill currently would extend last year’s pilot program until 2021, but it does not appear to expand it to all agencies.
In addition to the EPA and Defense, the Interior Department and State Department are now rolling out buyout packages. And since $25K wasn’t enough to tempt some of these folks out the door, you (as in the taxpayers) will now be funding checks for $40K for some of them.
I’m not trying to sound like a broken record here, but how is the President of the United States – the same guy who was best known for the phrase, “You’re fired” before taking the job – getting on board with this? Weren’t we supposed to be running the federal government more like a business now and delivering more bang for the taxpayer buck? There are X number of workers in these departments. The new management has concluded the work can be done with less and some of them need to be let go. If you’ve been there long enough to fully qualify for retirement I suppose it’s fine to wrap that up and get on your way. (Though you should count your blessings since almost nobody in the private sector has that kind of employer funded retirement plan anymore.) But for everyone else? When your employer no longer requires your services you leave. It’s not a request. You simply don’t have a job anymore. In some cases a generous, kind-hearted employer might cut you a severance check for a couple weeks or months worth of service, but $40K is literally around 80% of the median yearly income in this country.
That’s simply insane. And we’re talking about tens of thousands of workers here. Who’s running this show, anyway? Is it the unions or the actual managers in the federal government?
On second thought, don’t answer that. I might have to throw yet another laptop in the garbage.