Needed: Experience and Expertise (Rep. Tom Davis)

It’s not a sexy problem, but it’s a very real one: More than 550,000 employees – nearly a third of the entire federal workforce – will leave their government jobs in the next five years, most through retirement. Over the next decade, three in five federal workers will become eligible to retire. A brain/skills drain of this magnitude seriously could hinder government’s ability to function efficiently.

Yet today, federal law actively discourages those employees from coming back, even on a part-time basis, to share their expertise, experience and enthusiasm. This is a luxury we no longer can afford.

That’s why I, along with Reps. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, introduced the Re-Employment of Annuitants Act of 2007 (HR 3579). This legislation would allow retired workers to return to the job on a part-time basis and not lose annuity benefits in the process. Presently, they either stop receiving their annuity while they’re working or have their paycheck reduced by the amount of the annuity. This legislation would remove that restriction.

Our legislation would allow rehires to assist with short-term projects, fill critical skills gaps and train the next generation of the federal workforce up to 520 hours (65 days) in the first six months of retirement 1,040 hours (130 days) in the first 12 months and 6,240 (780 days) hours total.

The Office of Personnel Management already waives this rule for some hard-to-fill positions, which figure to grow in number going forward.Employees won’t add to their annuity or retirement pay by working these extra hours, but they won’t lose it while they’re trying to help out anymore either. The present rules might have been reasonable years ago, when the emphasis was on moving older workers into retirement to make room for younger workers. But the facts have changed in significant ways. Retirees are younger, healthier and more willing to return to work than ever before. All that’s needed is to remove the stifling disincentives such as those addressed in my legislation.

My legislation covers only executive-branch agencies, but companion legislation in the Senate covers all three

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