Retired whistle-blower, and locality pay

A Reader Writes:

I recently retired from the Agriculture Department after 36 years as a federal scientist.

Even though now retired, I sincerely want to "blow the whistle" on my previous supervisors — a right denied me while working under their supervision. The last six years of my federal career were very stressful, when I was turkey-farmed by my supervisors in 1995.

I have two concerns:

1. Can I still be a whistle-blower after I retire? Even though retired, can I still be attacked by my previous supervisors as a whistle-blower?

2. Is there a statute of limitations for supervisors making false statements and certifications on government forms?

Can I still be useful as a whistle-blower after I retire?

My family income depended on my job as a Ph.D. chemist and soil scientist. To complain or refuse to sign fraudulent statements about my performance evaluations and training reviews was the same as whistle-blowing, and would have ended my career in the USDA, an agency that only offers lip service to the concept.

In 1995, I set about to seek redress with the federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., but I was quietly advised by a government attorney that to do so would end my career and that no one would hire a 60-year-old scientist.

Even though I appear to be outside the jurisdiction of my old supervisors, can I still be attacked by them as a whistle-blower if I expose their fraud on me?

Is there a statute of limitations for supervisors making false statements and certifications on government forms? Am I too late and powerless as a retired employee even though I retired nine months ago, and the fraud occurred more than six years ago, only ending when I retired?

Milt Replies

I don't know what anyone can do to you now if you are retired and no longer working in the public sector. Of course, people can attack your sincerity, competency, etc., but they can't touch your income. They can't fire you. It looks safe to me.

Locality Pay and Retirement

A few readers followed up on my Sept. 6 Ask Milt column, "The benefits of retirement," in which I addressed a reader's question about how locality pay factored into retirement. Here are some questions and answers on that subject:

Reader: If locality pay is figured into retirement pay, and only base pay is used to determine retirement, where does the locality pay come in?

Milt: Your base pay is what you're earning at retirement, and it includes your locality adjustment. In other words, if you're a GS-12 who has been living in Birmingham, Ala., your "high three" years are figured on your highest three years (usually your final three years) based on the GS-12 rates for Birmingham, Ala.

Reader: What if I retire from a high-cost area and move to a low-cost area?

Milt: No one is going to ask you where you retire to. That isn't taken into account when figuring your annuity.

Reader: Sounds like the plan would be to finish your "high three" in a high-cost area and then retire to a low-cost area.

Milt: Sounds like a good idea!

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at milt.zall@verizon.net.

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