How do you identify the federal employees interested in leaving government in a large crowd where everybody looks pretty much the same — as in bored?
Shout out the words “buyout” or “phased retirement,” then see who comes to attention. If you are in a closed space, stand back or take cover.
Buyouts, plentiful in the 1990s, are on hold in most federal agencies as they check their budgets, figure out the next bite sequestration will take and await the new fiscal year.
Phased retirement is a different story. It’s been in the works nearly two years, and the target date for the final blueprint is by the end of the fiscal year. Maybe sooner.
To qualify, employees most likely must be eligible for immediate retirement and have at least 20 years of federal or military service. People in jobs subject to mandatory separation at a fixed age (air traffic controllers, law- enforcement officers) won’t be eligible for the program in those roles. Workers will likely be able to continue to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan and earn additional credits and benefits while in phased retirement.
When it’s authorized by OPM, agencies will have considerable leeway on who gets to take a phased retirement, and what the agency expects to get out of it.
In a webchat here last month, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta answered online questions about phased retirement and other OPM programs. She confirmed that phased retirees will “spend 20 percent of their time in ‘mentoring activities’ to facilitate the transfer of their knowledge and skills to other employees.” The idea is to let younger, less experienced employees know what’s to be done, how it’s done and, just as important, why it is done that way. A senior HR official, who is retiring this month, said “explaining to younger people why you do certain things can be an eye-opener for them. Sometimes you, as the ‘experienced hand,’ realize that while it seemed like a good idea at the time, times change and maybe the process should be reevaluated.”
Your Turn today: Retirement Programs, VA scandal, shrinking Workforce
On today’s Your Turn radio show at 10 a.m., our guests are Jessica Klement from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association and Andy Medici from the the Federal Times. Klement will focus on the future of the federal retirement program, reemployed annuitants and the legislative program for feds next year. Klement said feds will have to “step up their game” because Congress is likely to look for savings by cutting benefits, what she calls the “federal employee piggy bank.”
Medici will look at federal job losses (and some gains) on a state- by-state basis, the situation at the VA and the pending phased-retirement program.
Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
Paul Winchell, who voiced the characters of Gargamel on “The Smurfs” and Dick Dastardly on “Wacky Races,” was also one of the first inventors of an artificial heart. Winchell’s patent application for an artificial heart was granted in 1963 and is credited by some as a crude prototype of the artificial heart approved by the Food and Drug Administration and successfully used in a human in 1982. Winchell held 30 other patents, including for a disposable razor, a blood-plasma defroster and heated gloves.
Don’t miss your chance to tell your boss what you really think The deadline for the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey is rapidly approaching. Federal employees selected to participate in the survey &mash; gauging employee morale and views of agency management – have until Friday to complete the survey. As of Tuesday morning, about 330,000 employees have completed the online survey, OPM officials said in a press call with reporters. Another 80,000 or so are still in the process of completing the survey.
More problems with VA scheduling systems revealed The electronic wait system for keeping track of and monitoring initial primary- care appointments for new patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities is not the only scheduling system at VA that’s now under scrutiny. A separate system for monitoring VA patients’ access to outpatient specialty care — such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists and physical therapists – is also “unreliable,” according to GAO’s Debra Draper, who testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee Monday evening.