Smithsonian Offers Buyouts - Again

Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 12:57 PM EDT
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Smithsonian Offers Buyouts - Again

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The Smithsonian Institution is offering buyouts to its federal employees for the second time in two years amid federal budget constraints.

Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said Tuesday that budget pressures led to the buyout offer. The museum complex will offer lump-sum payments capped at $25,000 to those who voluntarily resign or retire. They must decide by July 22.

Secretary Wayne Clough announced the buyouts and early retirement offer in a memo to staff. He wrote that it will help reshape the workforce to meet current and future programming needs
under a new strategic plan.

In 2009, 144 federal employees took a buyout from about 4,000 federal staffers.

The National Zoo has announced seven employees will be laid off, saying federal funds haven't kept up with rising costs for animal care.

One of those employees, Karin Korpowski-Gallo, recently took her predicament to the top of federal government -- President Barack Obama.

She told Obama during a recent CBS News town hall that she would soon lose her job while she's pregnant and in the midst of building a new home with her husband.

“I’m stressed, I’m worried," she told Obama. "I’m scared about what I ... what my future holds. I definitely need a job. And ... I just wonder what would you do, if you were me?"

The rest of the exchange, via the Washington Post:

“Workers like you, for the federal, state, and local governments are so important for our vital services,” Obama said. “And it frustrates me sometimes when people talk about ‘government jobs’ as if somehow those are worth less than private sector jobs. I -- I think there’s nothing more important than -- working on behalf of the American people.”

“Well, I -- I thought that -- I’d be more important and secure,” Gallo said, cutting him off.

“I agree with you,” he said. “I think the challenge has been that -- in some of these negotiations to try to reduce the deficit I think the feeling -- particularly on the part of -- some folk -- on the other side of the aisle has been that we want to just cut and cut and cut. And that somehow is going to create economic growth.”

Korpowski-Gallo said after the town hall that she was offered a meeting with the Obama administration to discuss her situation further.

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