Commanders/managers may, and are encouraged to, use vacancies whenever necessary to lessen the impact of RIF - avoid displacement of other employees and separations. When a commander chooses to fill a vacancy with an employee released from his/her competitive level, it must do so in accordance with retention standing and assignment rights.
One of the pre-RIF management actions to lessen the impact of RIF is to "stockpile" vacancies to use for employee placements. Depending upon the size/scope of the projected RIF, vacant positions within an organization may be stockpiled or all vacancies on an installation may be held pending RIF action.
To open a number of vacancies, management may consider temporarily modifying the installation's fill policy by limiting or restricting hiring or inservice placement actions pending completion of the RIF. For example, fill actions could be limited to only critical mission-essential positions or to positions where the specialized and unique skills are not available in the current work force or, a hold could be placed on all external recruitment activity or on all inservice promotion, reassignments and change to lower grade actions.
Management may also be proactive by placing employees prior to the implementation of a RIF. In some cases, a RIF may be avoided entirely by moving employees, who would otherwise have been impacted by RIF, to vacant "equivalent" positions either through noncompetitive or competitive reassignment or even by competitive promotion.
The Office of Personnel Management has published two handbooks which provide an in depth discussion of all aspects of the reduction in force and transfer of function process. One handbook provides Guidance, and the other describes Required Procedures. For definitive guidance on any aspect of reduction in force, see the OPM Handbooks.