Section 9902(i) of title 5, U.S.C., as enacted by section 1101 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 04, Public Law 108-136, provides authority for the Secretary of Defense to establish a permanent downsizing and restructuring VERA program. The DoD 1400.25-M, SC1702. Subchapter 1702, Voluntary Separation Programs dated June 13, 2008, implements authority to approve separation incentives that may be used to encourage designated civilian employees to separate voluntarily from the Department of Defense. This authority was delegated to the Military Components and, in turn, delegated to the Commanders of the Army Commands, the Commanders of the Army Service Component Commands, the Commanders/Superintendent of the Direct Reporting Units, and the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. This authority may be further delegated no lower than the local commander or activity head.
RIF PLANNING. Before utilizing VERA, activities are expected to have first considered alternative actions of minimizing and/or avoiding a RIF (e.g., instituting hiring limitations, providing career transition assistance, registering early in the Priority Placement Program and other placement programs, and using incentives and voluntary losses). See the OPM Restructuring Information Handbooks on the OPM website under reduction in force, general.
The temporary work force must also be used as a reduction tool. Used wisely, the temporary work force can lessen the impact on permanent employees providing an alternative to RIF/TOF.
The reasons for approving a VERA include substantial delayering, reorganization, or reductions in force. VERA may be used to reduce the number of personnel or to restructure the workforce to meet mission objectives without reducing the overall number of personnel. VERA is not authorized in conjunction with TOF unless there are fewer positions in the gaining competitive area and employees would otherwise be separated by RIF. When a determination has been reached that a reduction in force is necessary, activities should follow the appropriate RIF notification and clearance procedures.
- Eligibility for VERA: Employees must be at least 50 years of age and completed 20 years of creditable service, or be any age with at least 25 years of creditable service; be serving on an appointment without time limitation; been continuously employed within the Department of Defense for more than 30 days before the date on which the determination to conduct a workforce reduction or restructuring action has been approved; not received a specific RIF separation notice, or a decision notice of involuntary separation for misconduct or unacceptable performance; and not be retiring as a result of declining a transfer of function, directed reassignment, or other management-initiated relocation outside the commuting area.
- VERAs may be based on occupation; grade or pay band; skills, knowledge, or other factors related to a position; as well as organizational, geographical, and nonpersonal and objective factors; or any combination of these factors.
- Activities using VERA shall determine and publicize the number of VERA approvals and the anticipated numbers of opportunity periods (windows) required.
- Multiple windows may be used to better meet organizational needs. Activities may choose to open a window or several windows to achieve the total retirements within its overall requirements.
- When multiple windows are used, the covered employees must be informed, by an announcement made prior to receipt of applications, of the limitations and the separate opportunity windows. If nonpersonal factors other than leave service computation date will be used to determine early retirement eligibility; these factors must be included in the announcement to employees.
- General announcement of a single VERA opportunity period will indicate the dates for opening and closing, the number of anticipated VERAs, and any approved nonpersonal and objective factors being considered.
- A single request may cover more than one organizational element and more than one geographic location.
- Employees accepting early retirement must be off the rolls by the RIF effective date; VERA recipients may not be retained in a duty status after the effective date of the respective RIF for any reasons.
The DoD 1400.25-M, SC1702. Subchapter 1702, Voluntary Separation Programs is located on CPOL at http://www.cpms.osd.mil/care/vsipvera.aspx.