Is there a buyout in your future?

If you want to get the attention of a federal worker — from ages 20 to 90 — just say the word “buyout.” Then stand back.

Each buyout benefits several people. The person who gets one. The person who may get a promotion to the buyout-taker’s job and also the person who, if there was a downsizing without buyouts, would be out of a job.

Congress revived buyout fever last month when the Senate Armed...

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If you want to get the attention of a federal worker — from ages 20 to 90 — just say the word “buyout.” Then stand back.

Each buyout benefits several people. The person who gets one. The person who may get a promotion to the buyout-taker’s job and also the person who, if there was a downsizing without buyouts, would be out of a job.

Congress revived buyout fever last month when the Senate Armed Services Committee OK’d language that would permit the Pentagon to upgrade the 1990s era $25,000 maximum buyout to an adjusted-for-inflation $40,000 model for 2016. Reaction from feds was immediate. It went from show-me-the-money to hand-me-a-buyout. It’s one tiny (but very important to many) part of the National Defense Authorization Act that is a work in progress in Congress.

While waiting on pins and needles for word from Capitol Hill, many feds have asked how buyouts worked back in the day.

They were originally set up so that agencies could avoid disruptive (and sometimes costly) Reductions In Force. During a RIF, people without Veterans Preference or relatively new hires could be pushed out of their jobs as higher-grade workers with seniority.

The first buyouts — worth up to a maximum of $25,000 — were first authorized in 1993 and were limited to the then-downsizing Department of Defense. Buyout (VSIP) authority was later extended to other agencies and the procedures and hoops they had to clear (obtaining approval from the Office of Management and Budget or Office of Personnel Management) were streamlined to make it easier for agencies in need to just do it.

Buyouts peaked in 2004 when Defense was closing some facilities and streamlining others. It planned to offer as many as 25,000 of the $25,000 buyouts. Then the buyouts all but went away until this year. Defense has said it might offer up to 6,000 buyouts a year over each of the next five years and that Army would offer most of them to its civilian workers.

So what are the odds, and what’s next?

If the buyouts aren’t Ok’d this year, they will almost certainly be proposed again to the new Congress. And if they are OK’d for Defense, it is likely that some other agencies will request VSIP authority so they can upgrade their IT programs. A lot of “ifs” there but this is definitely worth watching no matter what your age, grade or tenure.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The Searchers’ 1963 hit “Needles and Pins” was written by Jack Nietzsche and Sonny Bono.

Source: Wikipedia