The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with President Trump's plan to begin cutting staff at the agency by the end of the fiscal year, according to an internal memo.
A special task force has been created to oversee the process, with workforce reductions, including an employee buyout program, slated to go into effect by the end of September, according to a memo issued by EPA Deputy Administrator Michael Flynn.
"Streamlining and reorganizing is good government and important to maximizing taxpayer dollars," said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. "This includes looking at developing opportunities for individuals to retire early."
Bowman said it is a process "that mirrors what the Obama administration EPA did about four years ago." It was done "to ensure that payroll expenses do not overtake funds used for vital programs to protect the environment," she said.
Flynn sent the memo this week to guide regional administrators and other branches of the agency on complying with a separate April 12 memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The OMB memo "requires all agencies to begin taking immediate actions on near-term workforce reductions," Flynn wrote. "In light of this guidance, we will begin the steps necessary to initiate an early out/buyout ... program."
He said the "goal is to complete this program by the end of fiscal 2017," which is Sept. 30.
EPA employs about 15,000 workers, 3,200 of whom are targeted to be cut under Trump's budget blueprint.
Flynn noted that the EPA would not be ending a hiring freeze at the agency, despite the administration lifting the government-wide freeze this month.
"Given our resource situation, we will continue a freeze on external hiring," the memo read, adding that "limited exceptions to this external hiring freeze may be permitted on a case-by-case basis."