So you’re having a RIF, what could possibly go wrong?

There are two things that even the most die-hard do-it-yourself proponents will tell you not to do yourself:

  1. Cutting your own hair. In the movies, an on-the-run Angelina Jolie simply goes into a public bathroom, cuts her hair and dyes it blonde in the sink.  Then she walks out, looking pretty darn good, but still fools the bad guys who are chasing her. Problem: That only works in Hollywood if you have an expensive hair-do crew standing by. Other things not to try at home on your own …
  2. Removing your own, (or for that matter, anyone else’s) appendix. It’s just not a good idea. Maybe we should move on …
  3. There is a third never-do-it-yourself no-no if you are a high-ranking federal official under orders to thin the herd and reduce the payroll. Never, as in ever, run a reduction-in-force if there is any way to avoid it.

President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to downsize — in some cases eliminate — most federal agencies. The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs would grow anywhere from 6-to-9 percent. But everybody else, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of State, Agriculture and Health and Human Services would — under his proposal to Congress — take substantial hits. Cuts are also proposed for Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Justice, Treasury, and Interior. Even NASA, which hoped would catch a break because of the good fallout from the popular movie The Martian,  is in for a slight decrease in funds. A number of independent agencies, like the General Services Administration, are also bracing for cuts and many of them are looking at the RIF option.

In early 2016, the Air Force decided it needed to RIF more than 1,000 jobs after two efforts to lure employees out — with buyouts — failed to get enough takers. At the time, the Air Force, like all other agencies, was limited to paying employees a maximum before-deductions buyout of $25,000. While that worked in the 1990s, during the big Clinton administration downsizing, $25K isn’t enough to lure enough people to quit or retire. Defense agencies (including Air Force) now have the authority to give 2017-style upgraded buyouts of $40,000. But it hasn’t happened yet, and departments and agencies that could use it most (like EPA and State) are still limited to $25,000 buyouts. That could change. But there is no movement in Congress to upgrade the buyout amount for non-defense agencies.

Because of the anticipated cuts, a number of agencies are seeking both inside and outside help to tell them how to run a RIF. RIFs are messy at best, because employees whose jobs are abolished can — if they have seniority and veterans preference — bump down the line and displace younger workers or people with less military/civilian service time. They are also costly because agencies in some cases would have to pay employees severance (of up to one year’s base pay) and in some cases, the RIFees could also qualify for unemployment.

So RIFs, for many are the last resort for an organization and the people — especially relative newcomers — the government is trying to recruit and retain. Which means if your agency decides to RIF, things are going to get very messy and confused for awhile.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on television in 1952.

Source: Neatorama