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News Release

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM to Collect Agency Data on Employees Who Accept Buyouts or Early Outs

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has announced an initiative to collect comprehensive information from agencies to ensure their use of early-out retirement and buyout authorities to reshape the federal government meets fairness and veterans' preference requirements, as well as objectives of the President's Management Agenda.

"To remain consistent with the objectives of the President's Management Agenda and the Merit System Principles, any reshaping of your work force must be objective, mission-based, and strategic in nature," said OPM Director Kay Coles James in a March 12 memorandum (attached) to the heads of departments and agencies. "These authorities were developed to make agencies more effective in their efforts to reshape their work force and to better position their agencies to fulfill changing duties and the nature of work."

Under OPM's initiative, agencies will be required to provide certain demographic information about employees who accept an early-out or buyout offer.

"To ensure that agencies are using these authorities properly," James says in the memo, "these reports to OPM should contain demographic information, including veterans' preference category, age, gender and race or national origin" on employees who accept a buyout or early-out offer.

In the memo, James noted agencies' increased use of HR flexibilities, such as buyouts and early retirements, "to improve the strategic management of human capital and strategically align human resources practices with mission accomplishment." She has consistently encouraged agencies to use HR flexibilities to the maximum extent possible, consistent with merit principles and veterans' preference laws.

With the Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002, agencies have expanded authority to offer early retirements as a way to delayer, restructure or reshape their work forces to meet current skills needs. Prior to the act's passage, early retirements were available for use only as a means to avoid reductions-in-force (RIFs).

The act also gives OPM authority to approve agency requests to offer buyouts, or voluntary separation incentive payments, to employees. Previously, buyout authority could be obtained only through congressional and White House approval.

The Chief Human Capital Officers Act also created the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, which is chaired by James. The council was established, in part, to address the strategic human capital needs of the federal government.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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