Shared from the 4/20/2017 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

EPA to shrink its workforce with buyouts

The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that it would begin the process of shrinking its 15,000-employee workforce through buyouts, in the wake of President Trump’s executive order last month aimed at streamlining agencies throughout the federal government.

In a letter to regional administrators and other agency officials, EPA acting deputy administrator Mike Flynn said the White House had asked federal agencies to begin taking “immediate actions” aimed at reducing their workforce.

“In light of this guidance, we will begin the steps necessary to initiate an early out/buy out … program,” Flynn wrote, adding that the goal is to complete the program by year’s end.

He also noted that while a governmentwide hiring freeze had been lifted, hiring at EPA would remain at a standstill. “Given our resource situation, we will continue a freeze on external hiring,” Flynn wrote. “Very limited exceptions to this external hiring freeze may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.”

The memo, dated Tuesday, contains little additional detail about the EPA’s plans to shrink its number of employees.

But the EPA, in particular, has been a central target of the Trump administration. The president has promised in the past to reduce the agency to “tidbits.” His proposed budget would slash the agency’s funding by 31 percent, cut about 3,200 workers, obliterate funding for climate change research and Super-fund cleanups, and scrap more than 50 programs. Among them: efforts aimed at improving energy efficiency, funding infrastructure projects in Native American communities, and cleaning up the Great Lakes.

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