Federal Downsizing:

The Status of Agencies' Workforce Reduction Efforts

T-GGD-96-124: Published: May 23, 1996. Publicly Released: May 23, 1996.

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GAO discussed the government's progress in downsizing its workforce and use of employee buyouts. GAO noted that: (1) executive branch full-time equivalent (FTE) positions could decrease to 1.88 million during fiscal year (FY) 1999 under mandated ceilings; (2) as of September 30, 1995, the Department of Defense (DOD) paid 71 percent of the more than 112,500 governmentwide buyouts; (3) the actual FY 1995 FTE level was 73,100 positions below the FY 1995 ceiling; (4) the FY 1997 budget calls for nearly 53,000 fewer FTE positions; (5) employee buyouts have helped limit reductions-in-force (RIF) to 6 percent of personnel cuts; (6) agencies have used buyouts more to meet required downsizing goals than to meet the administration's restructuring goals; (7) management control positions of DOD agencies have decreased to under 12 percent, but other designated positions have increased; (8) 70 percent of buyouts between FY 1993 and FY 1995 were paid to employees who took regular or early retirement; (9) retirements decreased 20 percent from FY 1991 through FY 1992, but increased 35 percent after buyout authorization; (10) the FY 1999 workforce goal could probably be met through normal attrition, but budget cuts may force some agencies to rely on other strategies to reduce their workforces below their goals; and (11) in general, buyouts generate up to 50 percent more in net savings over 5 years than RIF because higher-graded employees retreat to lower-graded positions during RIF.

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