Q. I am a FERS employee working at an Air Force base with the Defense Department. I have about 31½ years service and am 62 years old. During the last year, my base has offered two VSIP/VERA opportunities to reduce the manning levels to what they were in 2010 and accommodate some reorganizing, and I hear they will be making a third offer in May. I applied for the last two and was denied for both. I was told by my management that our wing organization had vacant slots they could give up so a person could be offered a buyout if they weren’t saving someone from losing their job. As it turned out, I was denied the VSIP both times and notified by personnel that my leaving wouldn’t result in saving someone’s job, so I didn’t qualify for a buyout. I’m thinking about applying for the third round coming up, but if the criteria remain the same, it will probably be another two- to three-month waiting game for nothing. Can an organization offer VSIP/VERA buyouts just to reduce manning levels, or does it always have to result in saving someone’s job that is a match to your own?
A. Although the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority is open to anyone to whom it is offered, the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment isn’t. It is an incentive to leave that is offered sparingly, and then only to achieve specific management goals — for example, to eliminate a position that is surplus because of a reorganization or to save a position that is needed by getting rid of one that isn’t.