Flimsy Tools: The Limited Impact of Separation and Retirement Incentives on Department of Defense Civilian Force Shaping Open Access
Downloadable ContentDownload PDF
In the Department of Defense (DoD), civilian force reductions and shaping are accomplished through a limited number of means. The regulations controlling those means have evolved gradually from the inception of the first federal employee retention rights in 1876. As force shaping regulations have developed since World War II, it has taken longer to reduce the civilian force with each successive major force drawdown.The principal method for force shaping is reduction-in-force (RIF), which is also the main method civilian manpower is shaped across the federal government. Though RIF is the common method, it is generally not the preferred method due to the ripple effects it causes throughout the DoD employee hierarchy, and because of its financial cost. Voluntary separation and retirement incentives also exist, including Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP). These authorities are typically used to help defray the negative effects caused during RIF actions as they are less destructive to the force, both in terms of structure and morale.Despite being the preferred method, VERA and VSIP are currently too restrained and inflexible to offer much more than token force-shaping assistance. Now, with the federal budget sequestration looming, DoD finds itself without a quality, speedy method of reducing its civilian force. In order for DoD to be able to more effectively and rapidly respond to the ever-changing fiscal environment, both now and in the future, VERA and VSIP authorities must be expanded to allow for broader and more flexible civilian force-shaping.