The Environmental Protection Agency, seen by President Trump as a bloated bureaucratic whale, is on schedule to fulfill his promise to reduce its staff nearly in half by the end of his first term mostly through retirements, not cuts, according to officials.
The EPA Tuesday provided to Secrets its first year staff results which show that the agency is below levels not seen since former President Reagan’s administration.
And if just those slated to retire by early 2021 leave, Administrator Scott Pruitt and his team will have reduced a staff of nearly 15,000, to below 8,000, or a reduction of 47 percent.
“We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment,” Pruitt said in a statement to Secrets.
Several agencies have succeeded in making some cuts, but EPA is taking a lead.
- As of January 3, 2018, the EPA has 14,162 employees.
- The last time EPA was at an actual employment level of 14,440 was in fiscal year 1988 when Reagan was president.
- 23 percent of EPA employees can retire with full benefits and another 4 percent can retire at the end of 2018.
- Additionally, another 20 percent of EPA employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
- Taken together, 47 percent of the EPA will be eligible to retire with full benefits in the next 5 years.
Said an EPA official, “We're happy to be at Reagan-level employment numbers and the future retirements shows a preview of how low we could get during this administration. It would be fair to say anywhere from 25 to 47 percent of EPA could retire during this administration.”
Pruitt has used buyouts to spur some of the changes and attractive retirement benefits have also led many to leave the agency. He also instituted a hiring freeze.
Under Pruitt, the agency has gone the “back to basics” of protecting the environment while shucking former President Obama’s political agenda focused heavily on climate change.