Federal Downsizing:

Controls Needed to Ensure Compliance With Buyout Repayment Provisions

GGD-98-12: Published: Jan 26, 1998. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether: (1) the 23 buyout recipients returned to federal employment and, if so, whether they repaid the buyout or met the Department of Defense (DOD) reemployment policy; and (2) the 9 agencies that were identified as employing these 23 buyout recipients and other selected agencies, which may have buyout recipients under contract, had internal procedures in place to help ensure that buyout recipients repay buyouts when required to do so.

GAO noted that: (1) the information provided to GAO by the appropriate agencies' Office of Inspector General (OIG) and personnel office showed that a violation of the Federal Workforce Restructuring Act (FWRA) repayment provision or the DOD reemployment policy occurred in 11 of 23 cases; (2) the FWRA repayment provision was violated in 9 of the 11 cases, and the DOD reemployment policy was violated in the 2 other cases; (3) the remaining 12 cases were not violations, although they had originally appeared to be questionable because of discrepancies between agency reports and data in the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Central Personnel Data File (CPDF), which GAO used as a source of information; (4) in addition, while researching 1 of the 23 cases, an agency OIG found that the agency employed an additional buyout recipient who had not repaid the buyout; (5) regarding internal control procedures, none of the 9 agencies that GAO contacted for information on the 23 buyout recipient cases had adequate internal control procedures in place to provide reasonable assurance that the FWRA repayment provision was met; (6) two other agencies notified their personnel officers of the FWRA repayment provision; however, only one component of each agency developed additional procedures to help ensure compliance with the provision; (7) in addition to buyout recipients who return directly to federal employment, some buyout recipients work under contract for the federal government; (8) some of these contract personnel are employed under contracts that are expressly identified as personal services contracts and, thus, are subject to the FWRA repayment provision; and (9) in addition to these personnel, other contract personnel who are subject to relatively continuous supervision and control by agency officials are, in effect, working under personal services contracts and are subject to the FWRA repayment provision.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to OPM, the number, variety, and disparity among the many separate buyout authorities passed by the Congress between 1993 and today, makes standard, governmentwide regulation, monitoring, and tracking virtually impossible. OPM believes that this recommendation, while feasible at the time it was issued, does not appear to be practical at this time.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies establish procedures to comply with the buyout repayment provisions of the FWRA and other buyout authorities, the Director, OPM, should promulgate regulations requiring agencies to identify buyout recipients who: (1) are applying to return or have returned directly to federal employment; or (2) are applying to work for or already work for the federal government under a contract that is, by its terms, a personal services contract, or administered as such, and require them to repay their buyout. In doing so, the Director may want to consider OPM's list of possible options that agencies could take to help ensure compliance with the buyout repayment provisions.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: OPM is not inclined to require a new form for applicants to complete. It does not believe that creating a form and requiring every applicant to complete it is in proportion with the perceived problem. According to OPM, a form would simply create additional paperwork and serve no useful purpose.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies establish procedures to comply with the buyout repayment provisions of the FWRA and other buyout authorities, the Director, OPM, should create a form that job applicants would be required to complete to certify whether they were buyout recipients and, if so, from which agency they received the buyout. The Director may want to consider requiring that the form: (1) be attached to employment resumes or to the "Optional Application for Employment"; or (2) be completed by those applicants to which agencies are considering making job offers.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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