The Environmental Protection Agency has set aside $12 million to buy out employees as part of a major restructuring plan aimed at laying off roughly 3,200 employees under President Trump's forthcoming budget proposal, according to a memo.
"Senior leadership made decisions to allocate the carryover funds set aside earlier this year to address [the EPA's] priorities for incentive payments for workforce reshaping" and other priorities, wrote David Bloom, the EPA's chief financial officer, in a memo issued Thursday.
An EPA official told the Washington Post that "[s]treamlining and reorganizing is good government and important to maximizing taxpayer dollars," including "looking at developing opportunities for individuals to retire early."
It is a process that mirrors what the Obama administration did under its watch four years ago in order "to ensure that payroll expenses do not overtake funds used for vital programs to protect the environment," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Post.
The memo was floated ahead of the expected Tuesday rollout of Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal. Trump is meeting with OMB chief Mick Mulvaney on Friday before beginning his first presidential foreign trip to the Middle East and the Vatican.
Trump's budget blueprint issued in March detailed steep cuts for the EPA — a 31 percent reduction and cuts to staff. Some reports suggest that the cuts could be steeper in the final budget, but it is still up to Congress to approve it.