Remember the buyouts of the Clinton years? The one-size-fits-all, take as many as you like VSIPS (buyouts) and VERAs (early-retirement)? They seemed to be everywhere.
Tens of thousands of feds left — as planned or earlier than they anticipated — to pick up the maximum $25K (before deductions) buyouts.
If you remember them, that’s great. Now forget about them. It’s 2014, not the 1990s. Time to move on!
Proposed by the Clinton administration and administered by Congress, the first rounds of buyouts started in Defense. The amount of the buyout was, originally, calculated on what it would take to get a typical male wage-grade employee in Defense to take regular or early retirement. Buyouts soon spread to many other agencies from the super-secret National Security Administration to the more public Library Congress where people lined up on the sidewalk before opening hours to apply.
One purpose of the first rounds of buyouts was to target them toward blue-collar males at military bases, air bases, depots and shipyards. The buyouts were an inducement to get them to leave voluntarily. The other option would have been messy, costly reductions-in-force actions. That would have permitted military veterans — those for whom the buyouts were intended — to bump less senior employees, many of them women and minorities, out of their jobs. Although there were some RIFs, the vast majority of the downsizing was accomplished via buyouts and early-outs.
Now, buyouts are back. But in a very different form — and for a very different purpose. OPM, not Congress, now controls the buyout yea-or-nay process. And it’s resulted in more controlled, sometimes surgical buyouts, often based on location, type of job and, sometimes, limited to specific grade levels.
Despite inflation and hope-springs-eternal rumors on the Internet, the price tag on the buyout ($25,000 before all deductions) hasn’t changed. And won’t. No matter what your brother-in-law says, there is no “secret” bill pending in Congress to raise the buyout to $50,000, or to give credit for more time served to buyout-takers.
The face value of the buyouts is the same then as now (except in the Postal Service, where the amount has been whittled back, and payments in some cases made over a two-year period.)
But the base question is still the same. Would you take a $25,000 buyout if offered? Or do you prefer to wait for the delayed phased retirement program that agencies will be offering later this year, or early in 2015? If so…
House panel debates merits of Senior Exec Service, comes down hard on Va In examining the viability of the Senior Executive Service, House members called out the Veterans Affairs’ compensation program, with a pledge to introduce another piece of legislation to take back bonuses. The Senior Executives Association relayed concerns that talent is fleeing senior executive positions.
What happened to all of the young federal employees? The lack of 30-and-under talent in the federal workforce means agencies will be facing significant shortfalls in the future, says Jeff Neal, former chief human capital officer at the Department of Homeland Security.