Q: I am a FERS employee working for HHS/OIG. HHS has in past years offered buyouts, but I’ve been told that HHS/OIG employees are not eligible. If this is true, how can one department under one agency not be eligible? If government staff reduction is coming, shouldn’t any buyouts being offered be offered to everyone within that agency? Is there any action an employee should take to become eligible for buyouts?

A: Voluntary separation incentives should not be offered to everyone within an agency. That would be a flagrant misuse of the authority. When approved by OPM, “an agency may offer VSIP to employees who are in surplus positions or have skills that are no longer needed in the workforce who volunteer to separate by resignation, optional retirement, or by voluntary early retirement, if approved.” There is nothing an employee can do to make him- or herself eligible for a buyout.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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