The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that is is having success with shrinking its workforce through buyouts that have been offered to employees. The total number of agency employees have fallen to levels not seen since Ronald Reagan was in office.
Previous reports said that the Trump administration had a goal of reducing the EPA’s workforce by as much as 50%. The numbers just released indicate the agency is well on the way to potentially achieving this goal, possibly within the next five years.
The EPA also had said previously that its goal was to complete initiation of a buyout program by the end of FY 2017.
The Washington Examiner reported that as of January 3, total agency employees now stand at 14,162, down from approximately 15,000 at the start of 2017. That equates to an almost 6% decrease and puts total staff levels below the 14,440 total employees the agency had in 1988, President Reagan’s last year in office.
The EPA also said that 23% of agency employees can retire with full benefits, and another 4% can retire at the end of 2018. An additional 20% of agency employees will be eligible to retire in the next five years.
As a result, as much as 47% of the agency’s workforce will be eligible to retire with full benefits within the next five years. If the EPA could reach that goal, it would put the total size of the EPA workforce at under 8,000 employees.
“We’re happy to be at Reagan-level employment numbers and the future retirements shows a preview of how low we could get during this administration. It would be fair to say anywhere from 25 to 47 percent of EPA could retire during this administration,” said an EPA official.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said back in September that he was working to help employees retire early as part of an effort to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to do “tremendous cutting” at the agency.
“We’re giving long-serving, hardworking employees the opportunity to retire early,” said Pruitt. “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.”