The Environmental Protection Agency is soon going to be operating under the smallest number of the employees since Ronald Reagan’s administration, nearly 30 years ago.
Since it is functionally impossible to fire a bureaucrat, the Trump administration has taken to clearing house in a novel way. Hundreds of EPA employees a day are opting to accept contract buyouts and early retirements to avoid working in the Trump administration.
While Congress has capped the number of people that can work at the EPA to 15,000 in 2017’s omnibus spending bill, by the end of this September the EPA will have exceeded this agressive target, employing only 14,459 bureaucrats.
Only last month a total of 374 employees left while additional 33 took an early retirement, and 45 more are in the middle of filing the paperwork required for early retirement.
If only 19 more leave the EPA and the level goes below 14,440 it would actually be below the level of employees when Ronald Reagan was President nearly 30 years ago.
Scott Pruitt the administrator at EPA is responsible for the shrinking the size of government and the goal set by Trump for EPA is by 25%. Pruitt said, “We’re giving long-serving, hard-working employees the opportunity to retire early … We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars, and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment and American jobs.”
The agency can shrink down further as 20.17% of the EPA’s employees are at the age of retirement, and another of 25% can retire in next 5 years along with full government benefits.
The Agency’s buyout programs, VSIP and VERA gives the employees cash incentives for early retirements and the maximum payments are usually $25,000 for employees over 50 and those who have worked at least 20 years at the EPA.
Many other employees claimed that they are retiring in the protest of the new Republican administration or against Trump as President, were already eligible for early retirements ore had already applied for an early retirement.
One case of Elizabeth Southerland, the former director of the Office of Science and Technology in EPA’s Office of Water, showed that she was quitting on principle over the President Trump’s budget requests to cut down the agency’s spending and reducing it to $5.7 billion. Southerland who earned a $250,000 salary with a bonus worth $64,000 was eligible for the early retirement and made her own protest two months after the new budget was released.
However, official emails from Southerland showed that she was retiring because of the family issues and not because of the President Trump, or his budget proposal, or incoming secretary Pruitt – and her entire “protest” was a fake news story created in order to attack the President.