Buyout package: Treasure chest or empty nest?

Decision day on those proposed $40,000 federal buyouts is approaching and Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says there's lots more than bigger buyouts on the con...

Feds salivating over the prospect of new-and-improved $40,000 buyouts need to stay tuned to Capitol Hill this week. The House and Senate are both making rare election-year appearances in Washington this week. One of the “must” items on both the House and Senate calendars is the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) to fund — and in some cases change — operations of the largest federal operation.

The NDAA is like a giant attic full of old and new stuff. It is also a vehicle members use to push pet projects that would benefit their districts or home states, contractors and, in some cases, even federal workers. But finding out what is in the attic, and what’s going to be added or tossed is tough. One item that first surfaced in April was an administration-backed proposal to boost the maximum VSIP (buyout) payment from $25,000 to as much as $40,000 before deductions. The Pentagon, which made the request, said inflation and pay raises since buyouts were first introduced in the mid 1990s, mean the bait must be made more attractive.

The administration wants to downsize and revamp the Army. The buyout package, if approved as now being considered, would limit the new higher $40K payments to about 30,000 DoD civilians at the rate of about 6,000 a year over the next five years. Most (two out of three) of those new higher VSIPs would go to the Army, which is the subject of proposed major changes in the military side, plus changes in Veterans Preference rules for civilians who served in the military. The fact that the plans have been presented this late in the administration lessens the likelihood they will be approved.

Although the buyout proposal is currently limited to the Pentagon, many believe that it would likely be extended to other agencies next year if the new president decides to downsize or reorganize the government. That’s what happened during the Bill Clinton years. The President wanted to eliminate roughly 240,000 federal jobs, to bring government employment down to JFK levels. But the White House wanted to avoid disruptive and costly RIFs (reductions in force) when older, senior and workers with Veterans Preference who are RIFfed can bump short-service, non-vets out of their jobs. Buyouts of $25,000 were first approved for Defense in 1993, then later extended to a dozen other agencies.

So what’s in the NDAA that might impact, help or hurt you? What else is Congress looking at and what’s the future for bigger, expanded buyouts? And what about possible changes in veterans preference? Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show we’ll talk with Greg Standford of the Federal Managers Association. Much of FMA’s membership is in Defense. He’ll talk about what Congress may do about long-term TDY per diem, possible changes in vets preference rules and of course the outlook for buyouts. We’ll also talk about streamlined firing procedures at the Veterans Affairs Department that may be expanded to other agencies, the prospect for a bigger (5.3 percent) pay raise in 2017 and plans to extend the federal probationary period.

The show will be streaming from Federal News Radio at 10 a.m. EDT, and also on 1500 AM in the Washington area. If you have questions or comments email them to me at or call in during the show at 202-465-3080.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

On June 15, 1916, the Boy Scouts of America receives its congressional charter.

Source: Brainy History

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.