Few retired feds cash in on dual compensation

Tuesday - 9/11/2012, 4:01pm EDT

By Amanda Iacone
Federal News Radio

Few federal agencies are taking advantage of a new retention tool that allows partially retired federal workers to receive their full monthly pension check and earn a federal salary at the same time, according to a new Government Accountability Office report released this week.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 allows federal agencies to re-hire retired workers and pay them a full salary while the worker continues collecting his or her full retirement benefit, known as a dual compensation waiver. Typically re-hired retirees collect just a portion of their pension check based on how much they work. But the law grants temporary dual compensation waivers if the retiree is helping to fulfill mission "critical" functions, to assist in procurement or to mentor and train other employees, among other purposes.

GAO studied the use of the waiver at six federal agencies and found that only the Treasury Department took advantage of the option frequently. Treasury granted 381 waivers during 2010 and 2011 compared to just 12 waivers the U.S. Postal Service granted during the same time period, according to the report.

The report said Treasury's use of the dual compensation option was limited because less than 1 percent of its staff was granted the waiver.

The Office of Personnel and Management granted 32 waivers during the last two years. And three other agencies the GAO evaluated granted less than 10 waivers during the same two years. Those agencies include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Small Business Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development, the report said.

Governmentwide statistics were not available because many agencies did not break out defense act waivers from other waivers reported to OPM, the report said.

Responding to the report, R.W. Borchardt, operations director for the NRC, wrote that even though the agency did not take advantage of the waiver, he considers it a "valuable human capital tool and hope that we continue to enjoy access to it."

NRC reported that it typically uses waivers available through the Energy Policy Act of 2005. "Agency officials told us that their agencies used a combination of NDAA and other waiver authorities already in place when hiring retired workers," the report said.

The waiver language was added to the defense act to help government agencies to hire and retain talented workers especially as the rate of federal retirements increases. The dual compensation waiver authority expires in October 2014.

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