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Personnel News

Revised Buyout Plans

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
November 8, 1996
Filed under

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office of the Administrator
Washington, DC 20546-0001
November 8, 1996
TO: C/Associate Administrator for Headquarters Operations
Directors, NASA Field Installations
FROM: AD/Acting Deputy Administrator
SUBJECT: Revised Buyout Plans
Several weeks ago, Sam Armstrong requested that each of you develop plans to take advantage of the buyout in FY l997. After reviewing the individual Center’s recommendations, then overlaying the numerous programmatic challenges facing the Agency, the Administrator has accepted the recommendation to expand use of the buyout at this time. This tool affords NASA the opportunity to continue aggressively downsizing the workforce through voluntary means.
Over the last several years, the Agency has embarked on an ambitious plan to change how it conducts business in order to reduce costs, refocus efforts into research and technology development, and improve relevance to the Nation. By restructuring the size and composition of the civil service workforce, the Agency becomes better able to respond to this rapidly changing environment. By the end of FY 2000, the plan is for NASA to have fewer than 18,000 civil servants. This represents a 30-percent reduction from the authorized FY 1992 levels. Through FY l996, the reduction totaled over 4,500. In spite of the success thus far, the remaining 3,000 reductions represent a formidable objective, particularly since the Agency committed to its employees and the Congress to exhaust whatever voluntary measures are available prior to using involuntary measures.

Each Center already has a civil service workforce target for FY 2000. Because of efforts to date, some Centers are closer to meeting their individual targets than others. However, from an Agency perspective, natural attrition will likely fall 1,700 to 1,900 losses short of the established goal. Further, the remaining workforce mix, even if we meet our ambitious targets, would likely not match the skill requirements identified for the restructured Agency. The difficulty of this challenge was the basis for NASA’s active pursuit of legislative authority to use voluntary incentives such as buyout. Previous buyouts achieved a major portion of the voluntary losses to date. As one of the few tools available to us, use of buyout is integral to our overall plan to complete a timely downsizing.
Each of you, therefore, with the exception of the Dryden Flight Research Center, is to submit a modified buyout plan through your Institutional Program Office to the Office of Human Resources and Education by November l9, l996. For those of you who were planning to delay buyouts until a later year, this will mean establishing a buyout plan for implementation now. Our goal is for you to reach the end of FY 1998 employment level by the beginning of FY 1998. This approach is consistent with our earlier buyout strategy and our discussions with Congress. The resultant flexibility which such action affords in the near term could prove invaluable in offsetting already acknowledged resource shortfalls in other areas of NASA’s budget. It also may provide some added flexibility to rebalance the workforce, as losses occur through natural attrition following implementation of the buyout. Finally, it helps achieve organizational stability more quickly. This is essential for the Agency to function effectively.
Your new or revised buyout plan should, in addition to the major points addressed previously, contain the following elements:
1. Revised numbers and/or categories for buyout which will enable you to reach your planned FY 1998 end strength by the start of FY 1998.
2. A mechanism to control or prioritize losses within your designated buyout categories
The enclosed chart contains your target buyout numbers for this year. Other information on the expanded buyout plan has been sent to your personnel directors and discussed with them. You must continue to involve your unions in your buyout planning. We anticipate Administrator approval of recommended buyout plans no later than November 25, 1996.
This Agencywide buyout plan expands participation by all Centers and Headquarters, so that we can ensure that we meet our downsizing targets. This approach is planned to limit the impact on programs and minimize the need for disruptive reductions-in&-force (RIF’s). As we expand our buyout program, it is especially important that employees vulnerable to reduction in force have an opportunity to participate in the buyout.
NASA is prepared to take full advantage of temporary measures to mitigate near term workload issues and to ensure safe and timely program delivery. This could include increased details, reassignments, and use of term or temporary appointments.
If each Center is successful in reaching the buyout targets shown on the enclosed chart, which we recognize is an ambitious undertaking, the Agency could eliminate the need for further consideration of major RIF discussions at most Centers. NASA could then concentrate on resolving the remaining restructuring issues and our high quality workforce could focus their energies on the challenging programs already on NASA’s plate.
We are relying on your continued cooperation and support to meet the challenge presented by the Agency’s overall restructuring effort. If you have specific questions about your target numbers, or other issues related to the civil service downsizing effort, you may contact your Institutional Program Office representative or

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