Q. If your agency or command does a survey for buyouts, does your immediate command and/or supervisors have a say as to which employees would get the buyouts, or could they have any influence in the matter ? And is there any way to track the possible potential of the buyouts to your command?

A. Voluntary separation incentive payments aren’t like voluntary early retirement authority offers. When an agency needs to reduce its staffing level across the board or in specific activities, VERAs are used to shake the tree and see who falls out. Hopefully, it will be enough to avoid a reduction in force. VSIPs, on the other hand, are targeted at specific occupations, organization levels or positions and where a buyout can encourage employees to retire who otherwise wouldn’t do so. All levels of management are involved in deciding which positions those are. If your agency gets expressions of interest in a buyout from employees who are in the areas or positions that would need to be eliminated (or possibly downgraded as the result of reorganization), it would be very likely to give them that opportunity. On the other hand, an agency would be foolish to offer incentives to those it most needs to keep onboard to carry out its mission.


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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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