Cost Cutting in Mind, Wayne Clough Asks Smithsonian Staffers to Consider Early Retirement, Buyouts

Elsewhere in museum news, Wayne Clough, who is still the head of the Smithsonian, despite repeated calls for his removal following the National Portrait Gallery/David Wojnarowicz debacle last winter, has released a memo to his staff, asking them to think about retiring early or going the route of a planned buyout. The Washington Post received a copy of the memo and has printed sections of it. Therein, Clough makes a request for voluntary terminations to help the organization “move forward in implementing the Strategic Plan” and “help us address critical Federal budgetary issues.” That plan is the one he began developing shortly after being hired (and was officially unveiled last year) and, more immediately, after the Smithsonian’s last major budgetary house-cleaning and hours-extending, money-raising plan back in 2009. The “Federal budgetary issues” refers to both the administration’s threats earlier this year that it would cut the organization’s budget back so greatly that their museums would have to start charging a very-specific $7.50 per visitor, and the recent reality that found its federally-funded coffers only shaved and not hacked to pieces. All of that, of course, on top of the remnants of the $2.5 billion in debt the Smithsonian was swimming just four short years ago. According to the Post, in this current incarnation of trims, “The buyout is a lump-sum payment to an employee who resigns or retires voluntarily, capped at $25,000.” Furthermore, “Employees have until July 22 to make their decision.”