Voluntary buyouts offered to Smithsonian staff

The Smithsonian is offering all employees the opportunity to request a voluntary separation incentive payment (buyout) and will offer early retirement (“early-out”) to federal employees until Nov.6.

A buyout is a lump-sum payment provided to an eligible employee who resigns or retires voluntarily during a specified period. The amount of the buyout is the amount equal to the employee’s calculated severance pay entitlement or $25,000, whichever is less.

The buyout is offered to all federal employees; trust fund employees who are funded with unrestricted Central Trust funds (Fund 401); and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute staff employed under the Panamanian Employment System.

Buyouts must be requested before close of business, Friday, Nov.6 and employees must retire or resign from the Smithsonian any time between Monday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. This time frame allows interested staff to receive buyout calculations, annuity estimates, personal retirement counseling, and for the Institution to achieve maximum savings during fiscal year 2010.

Under Secretary for Finance and Administration Allison McNally emphasized in her Sept. 28 statement announcing the buyout program that requesting a buyout is entirely voluntary. Initial requests for buyout calculations and annuity estimates will be confidential. OHR is issuing detailed information and instructions to all Smithsonian administrative officers and the human resources offices of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and STRI. These materials contain detailed information on eligibility for a buyout payment, retirement eligibility, deadlines for submitting documents, requesting buyout and retirement annuity estimates, forms and other important information. The information also is available on Prism and on the OHR Web site.

The Smithsonian is offering the buyouts as it prepares to reshape its workforce to meet current and future programming needs and also to address upcoming budget challenges. McNally explained in her statement that in refilling vacated positions the highest priority will be given to scholarly, curatorial and scientific positions and those that ensure the safety of visitors, staff and volunteers.

Posted: 30 September 2009
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.