By Kevin Bogardus
U.S. EPA will begin offering early retirement and buyout packages to its staff to comply with President Trump’s order to reduce the federal workforce.
In a memo obtained by E&E News, acting Deputy EPA Administrator Mike Flynn told senior officials that the Trump administration has required all agencies to downsize, including EPA.
“The [Office of Management and Budget] guidance also requires all agencies to begin taking immediate actions on near-term workforce reductions. In light of this guidance, we will begin the steps necessary to initiate an early out/buy out (VERA/VSIP) program,” Flynn said in the memo, dated Monday.
“Our goal is to complete this program by the end of FY 2017.”
Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, said the move by EPA to pare down its workforce is “good government.”
“Streamlining and reorganizing is good government and important to maximizing taxpayer dollars. This includes looking at developing opportunities for individuals to retire early,” said the EPA spokeswoman.
“It’s a process that mirrors what the Obama Administration EPA did about four years ago, to ensure that payroll expenses do not overtake funds used for vital programs to protect the environment,” she said.
In his memo, Flynn is referring to an OMB order issued last week that requires agencies to reorganize and reduce their workforce. That memo also ended President Trump’s governmentwide hiring freeze, but Flynn said that would continue at EPA.
“Given our resource situation, we will continue a freeze on external hiring,” said the agency No. 2.
Flynn said there would be “very limited exceptions” to that freeze, pending approval by him on “a case-by-case basis.” In addition, “internal reassignments may proceed where appropriate,” though that may require approval by senior officials.
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