EPA creates $12M fund for employee buyouts

EPA creates $12M fund for employee buyouts
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is setting aside $12 million to pay for employee buyouts, officials wrote in a memo this week. 

According to a Thursday note to employees from acting CFO David Bloom, the EPA is also using leftover funds from the last fiscal year to support the agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance and its administrative and human resources offices. It is also setting aside $800,000 to pay off travel expenses for Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump adviser affirms intent to leave Paris deal | Officials report leaks at Superfund site after Harvey | Hurricane Maria now a major storm Overnight Regulation: Trump adviser affirms plans to leave climate deal | FDA to study new cigarette warning labels | DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales Officials report potential spills at Texas Superfund site after Harvey: report MORE’s protective detail. 

“Senior leadership made decisions to allocate the carryover funds set aside earlier this year to address [the] agency’s priorities for incentive payments for workforce reshaping,” among other things, Bloom wrote in his memo, provided to The Hill. 

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“We appreciate all of the sustained attention and leadership you have provided in carefully managing your resources to achieve the agency’s mission," he added.

"Streamlining and reorganizing is good government and important to maximizing taxpayer dollars," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement.  

"This includes looking at developing opportunities for individuals to retire early. It’s a process that mirrors what the Obama Administration EPA did about four years ago, to ensure that payroll expenses do not overtake funds used for vital programs to protect the environment."

The EPA said in April that it would maintain a hiring freeze put in place by the Trump administration in January and that it would offer employees buyouts as part of a workforce restructuring proposal. The agency said at the time that the buyout program would be completed by the end of the fiscal year in September. 

The buyout fund also comes as the Trump administration considers a 2018 budget proposal that would see the EPA shed 3,200 jobs. The White House is due to announce its formal budget next week, kicking off the congressional appropriations process.

Updated at 10:48 a.m.