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Federal Eye
Posted at 01:48 PM ET, 06/07/2011

Government Printing Office wants to offer buyouts to 330 workers


A GPO worker uses a flat hammer to round the newly printed set of President Obama's presidential papers at the agency’s offices. (By Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

With a declining need for paper copies of government budgets, booklets and instruction manuals, the Government Printing Office is hoping to scale back with plans to offer buyouts to about 330 employees as soon as this fall.

The government’s official printing agency, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, said Tuesday that it will seek permission from Congress and the Office of Personnel Management to offer workers up to $25,000 as an incentive to voluntarily depart. The agency said it hopes to cut about 15 percent of its 2,200 workers, including 25 percent of its managers and supervisory personnel.

Agencies must seek authorization from OPM to offer buyouts. Several agencies adjusting to the federal budget crunch are offering buyouts or laying off workers.

“These challenging economic times have no boundaries and are forcing many Federal agencies to seek ways to survive,” GPO boss Bill Boarman, formally known as the federal government’s public printer, said in a statement. “GPO is open for business. We are an agency with a dedicated workforce that will continue to reengineer itself in the 21st century to serve as the digital information platform for the federal government.”

Workers across the agency are eligible to apply for the buyouts, officials said, including employees at its Washington headquarters and regional offices nationwide.

The job cuts are in anticipation of a $20 million budget cut next fiscal year, according to George Lord, chairman of GPO’s Joint Council of Unions. Workers were first alerted to the possibility of buyouts three weeks ago, he said.

 “The overwhelming amount of people likely to take a buyout would come from our production areas, because of the longevity of those people,” Lord said.

 Similar buyouts led to 400 job cuts during George W. Bush’s administration, he said.

In addition to the buyouts, Congress and the White House are also looking to scale back the agency’s work. A Senate proposal would require GPO to print only a few hundred copies of the rarely read Congressional Record, while a White House plan would allow federal offices to opt out of receiving paper copies of the daily Federal Register.

Several other non-security agencies facing a budget squeeze are also using buyouts to trim the rolls. The Agriculture Department and Smithsonian Institution are offering up to $25,000 to workers to leave. USDA’s buyouts are for more than 500 employees working on conservation programs, while the Smithsonian’s offer is primarily for government museum employees. The National Zoo also recently laid off seven communications and support staffers amid long-running budget constraints.

The U.S. Postal Service is also offering $20,000 to administrative staffers in hopes of cutting 7,500 positions by next spring.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

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By  |  01:48 PM ET, 06/07/2011

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