Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough has asked many of its federal employees to consider a new buyout or early retirement offer.
In a memo to the staff, Clough said the reductions, if they happen, would give the Smithsonian an opportunity to recast some of its programs. The Smithsonian, he wrote, “will be able to reshape the workforce to meet current and future programming needs as we continue to move forward in implementing the Strategic Plan. This will also help us address critical Federal budgetary issues.”
In his testimony submitted to Congress last Thursday, Clough described the Smithsonian workforce and an ongoing effort to redesign the organizational structure.
“The Smithsonian has more than 6,000 employees, including approximately 700 scientists and scholars, and more than 6, 500 volunteeers: curators, researchers, historians, experts in fields from astrophysics to zoology,” said Clough.
The buyout is a lump-sum payment to an employee who resigns or retires voluntarily, capped at $25,000. Employees have until July 22 to make their decision.
Certain categories of federal employees are exempt. Those include the animal keepers, electricians, police officers, security guards and veterinary medical officers. The Smithsonian also has a group of employees who are paid from private funds and the offer was not extended to them.
The institution-wide Strategic Plan, introduced in 2010, covers four broad areas: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe; Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet; Valuing World Cultures and Understanding the American Experience.