• JL v
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
August 14, 2017
Why We Did This Review
This report addresses the
progress of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), Office of Inspector
General (OIG), in achieving its
workforce restructuring goals. In
fiscal year 2014, the OIG applied
for and was granted the authority
to execute two programs to
increase voluntary attrition:
•	Voluntary Early Retirement
Authority (VERA), which
temporarily lowers the age
and service requirements for
retirement ("early-out").
•	Voluntary Separation
Incentive Payment (VSIP),
which allows agencies to
offer up to $25,000 per
employee to incentivize
separation from federal
service ("buyout").
We separately issued a report on
the progress of other EPA offices
in accomplishing workforce
restructuring using the VERA-
VSIP authority (see Report
No. 17-P-0140).
This report addresses the
following EPA OIG goal:
•	Contribute to improved
business practices and
Send all inquiries to our public
affairs office at (202) 566-2391
or visit www.epa.gov/oiq.
Early-Outs and Buyouts Aided OIG Workforce
Reduction, but Weak Management Controls
Led to Misused Authority
What We Found
With its VERA-VSIP authority, the OIG
achieved its goal to reduce the size of its
workforce but did not achieve its other
workforce restructuring goals.
The OIG's VERA-VSIP goals were
consistent with those outlined by other EPA
offices. The OIG sought to increase the numbers of staff per supervisor, obtain
staff with new skill sets, eliminate surplus positions, and reduce the number of
In total, 23 employees separated from the OIG under the VERA-VSIP program.
However, the OIG's weak management controls resulted in 11 of these
23 employees receiving separation payments even though their positions were
not included in the OIG's VERA-VSIP plan approved by the U.S. Office of
Personnel Management (OPM). The cost of these 11 VSIP buyouts was
approximately $347,000, which included payment for unused annual leave that
employees were entitled to upon separation from their positions. Furthermore, the
OIG did not abolish from its workforce profile the 23 positions vacated after the
buyouts, as its OPM-approved plan stated it would.
In addition, the OIG provided quarterly VERA-VSIP reports to OPM but did not
provide a final report as required in OPM instructions.
Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions
We made four recommendations to the Assistant Inspector General for the
Office of Management to permanently abolish positions identified in the OIG's
VERA-VSIP plan; update the OIG's restructuring plan as appropriate; develop
internal controls to prevent future buyouts to staff in positions not approved by
OPM; and ensure adherence to VERA-VSIP obligations, including reporting
requirements. The OIG concurred with these recommendations and provided
acceptable corrective actions. Two corrective actions are closed, and two have
pending corrective actions.
The OIG should implement
management controls for high-
risk operations such as a VERA-
VSIP program to prevent future
noncompliance and support
improved workforce outcomes.
Listing of OIG reports.