Office of Civilian Human Resources

Reduction in Force

OPM develops policy and provides guidance to Federal agencies regarding reduction in force (RIF).  When an agency must abolish positions, the RIF regulations determine whether an employee keeps his or her present position, or whether the employee has a right to a different position. The regulatory requirements governing reduction in force are contained in Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 351. Federal agencies must follow the procedures contained in the Code of Federal Regulations when conducting a RIF.

The law provides that OPM's RIF regulations must give effect to four factors in releasing employees:

  1. Tenure of employment (e.g., type of appointment);
  2. Veterans' preference;
  3. Length of service; and
  4. Performance ratings.

An agency is required to use the RIF procedures when an employee is faced with separation or downgrading for a reason such as reorganization, lack of work, shortage of funds, insufficient personnel ceiling, or the exercise of certain reemployment or restoration rights. A furlough of more than 30 calendar days, or of more than 22 discontinuous work days, is also a RIF action.