EPA Begins Implementing Downsizing Efforts
Under a proposal unveiled recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would cut eight percent of its workforce over the next month.
The plan was announced in a memo from Michael Flynn, the EPA’s Acting Deputy Administrator. The proposal is slated to be enacted by September 2.
The memo said, "Early outs and buy outs ... can help us realign our workforce to meet changing mission requirements and move toward new models of work. The authority encourages voluntary separations and helps the Agency complete workforce restructuring with minimal disruption to the workforce."
The proposal comes on the heels of steep cuts under President Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal. The EPA was the hardest hit of any federal agency, facing a 31 percent budget cut and the elimination of roughly 3,800 employees out of roughly 15,000 employed by the agency. In its own budget proposal, the House GOP scaled back the proposed cuts, offering a 6.5 percent budget reduction.
The dramatic shake-ups at the agency are in keeping with what has, from the very beginning, been a rocky relationship between the EPA and the administration. Days after taking office, the Trump administration was said to be “scrutinizing studies or data published by scientists” at the EPA, putting new work under a “temporary hold.” Nearly simultaneously, the administration banned EPA employees from releasing “any public-facing documents,” including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”
As the September 2 deadline approaches, more details are coming out about the employees targeted under the proposed reductions. Thus far, the ranks include, “six Seattle toxicologists, 16 Kansas City chemists, 41 IT managers in Durham, North Carolina, and 136 general attorneys from Washington, D.C.,” according to Federal News Radio.
According to representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees, “the maximum number of offers under the agency’s VERA/VSIP proposal is 1,228 employees agency-wide.” Currently, about 195 employees are expected to accept the offer, in addition to about 405 permanent employees who are expected to be “involuntarily separated, downgraded, transferred, or reassigned.”
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