State retirees: Uncle Sam wants you back!

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

In a speech last Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put a call out to all retired Foreign Service and Civil Service employees: “we need your experience and expertise”.

Under the When Actually Employed (WAE) program, “Foreign Service retirees,” explained John Palguta Vice President for Policy at the Partnership for Public Service, “have the option to elect to volunteer to come back as a paid When Actually Employed, or WAE, employee.”

Palguta said there are a few conditions.


They indicate their willingness to come back. The different bureaus in State Department basically decide if they have the budget and the work that can make use of these individuals. It’s a part time – they cannot work any more than 1,040 hours in a calendar year, and that’s half of a work year… It’s temporary and it’s intermittent. They don’t have a regular work schedule, but if they need someone to be deployed to Iraq for example, they can call upon a WAE experienced diplomat who’s retired to volunteer to go over there for three months. They can go three months full time as long as it’s not longer than six months full time, which would be the half year.

The push, or pull, to bring back retirees isn’t anything new. Palguta told Federal News Radio, “I saw a State Department report that was dated in 2002 that actually noted that at time about one out of every four Foreign Service retirees had returned in a WAE status within one year of separation.”

The reason is simple, said Palguta. “It’s all about talent. You’ve got a job to do. You’ve got to find people capable of doing it, sometimes on very short notice. And what Secretary Clinton was noting last Friday was they may need even more people willing to come back as a federal retiree.”

Every federal agency has the ability to bring retirees back into the fold. Palguta said to expect the trend to continue.

“I think we’re going to see more of this as the baby boomers start going and we see a lack of experienced people at many agencies.”