Two civilian workers look through a KC-135 super kit at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The Air Force announced it is offering a second round of voluntary buyout and early retirement opportunities for civilian employees. (Margo Wright / Air Force)
The Air Force announced Tuesday it is offering a second round of voluntary buyout and early retirement opportunities for civilian employees to help deal with a tight budget.
The application period for buyouts and early outs will begin Jan. 9, and applications will be due Feb. 3, the Air Force said. Civilians whose applications are approved must leave their jobs by April 30. The Air Force hopes 4,500 employees will apply for early retirements and buyouts.
Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, director of force management policy, said in a statement that the Air Force hopes the voluntary buyouts and early outs will help it avoid layoffs. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates capped civilian staffing at fiscal 2010 levels as part of his so-called efficiency initiative, and the Air Force said the latest buyouts and early outs will help it meet that requirement.
"The Air Force recognizes the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce, but also recognizes the fiscal constraints under which the Department of Defense and the government as a whole are operating," Dunbar said. "We are pursuing all available force management measures, to include civilian hiring controls, where required, with the goal of avoiding involuntary measures for our current permanent workforce."
The Air Force said 1,054 employees accepted buyouts or early outs during the first round, which ended Dec. 31. In December, the Air Force lifted its four-month-old hiring freeze, which it said helped cut nearly 9,000 civilian positions.
The buyouts will be worth as much as $25,000, before taxes. To be eligible for an early retirement, an employee must be either age 50 with 20 years of service, or have 25 years of service at any age.
The Air Force said if an employee covered by the Civil Service Retirement System under age 55 takes an early retirement, his annuity will be reduced by 2 percent for each year he is under 55. Federal Employee Retirement System employees face no such reduction.