Going Part-Time

Monday - 4/6/2009, 4:00am EDT

One way to soften the impact of a mass wave of retirements, the dreaded "brain drain", in government would be to let valuable managers, executives and key employees work part time. They could work three of four days a week, maybe even from home.

A phased retirement plan would permit agencies to retain their institutional memories while younger, less experienced replacements got on the job-training alongside the been-there-done-that part-timers.

Currently, going part-time at the end of a career could be a problem. That's because under the Civil Service Retirement System people who end their careers as part-timers are often penalized with a smaller annuity, and that's important because, while the number of working feds under the CSRS system are a minority, they still make up the vast majority of people who could retire now and over the next 5 years.

Frequent warnings of a massive brain drain have been sounded since 2000. But for a variety of reasons, including the current economic downturn, Uncle Sam hasn't totally lost his mind. Yet. And relief may be on the way.

The Federal Retirement Reform Act which passed the House Thursday could make going part-time much more attractive to long-time feds. The bill, H.R. 1804 by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is part of a larger package that sailed through the House. It could run into trouble in the Senate (as it did last year) because the retirement changes are bundled inside a bill that would give the FDA more control over tobacco. That worries tobacco state Senators because tobacco is the largest (legal) cash crop in their states. Home grown marijuana is easier (than tobacco) to grow, but it is also illegal. For other provisions relating to feds, click here.

FERS Come Back!

The plan, if passed by the Senate, would also permit people under the FERS retirement system who return to government service to buy-back their service time. That would mean a much larger retirement benefit which could encourage them to return and finish out their government career. The Senate won't be back until the week of April 20. Meantime, for more details, click here.

Don't Follow This Leader...

Here's an interesting e-mail from a reader/listener who says he should be the poster boy for investors who think they can guess when the market has peaked or bottomed out:

"I hereby claim all responsibility for current market fluctuations. After riding the market all the way down (100 percent in the C-fund from 12/05 through 2/09), I finally got disgusted and went 100 percent into the G-fund on March 2, 2009. Since then the S&P average has gone up up up!! Despite my best efforts I always sell low and buy high (glad I'm CSRS). Rich, Department of the Army

PS: I will warn you and your readers when I change my strategy -- so you can do exactly the opposite.

So watch this space. When Rich makes his next move we'll alert you so you can do just the opposite.

Outgoing

This is retirement day for David H. Burpee, long time public affairs chief at the super-secret National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Much of what NGA does is hush-hush, but from what we can tell it has a vital mission and does it pretty darn well.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest and most visited unit in the National Park System.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com