GAO: Agencies rarely use waiver to bring back retired feds at full pay

Many retired federal employees, already drawing annuity payments, decide at some point to return to work. And although agencies have the authority to waive a requirement to deduct the annuity amount from the salary, few are taking advantage of it, according a report the Government Accountability Office submitted to two congressional committees. 

To address some of the challenges in hiring and retaining talent in a time of increased retirements, federal agencies have sought to rehire retired government employees. Typically, when retirees are rehired their salary is subject to a deduction in the amount of the annuity. Under the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, agencies are able to waive this requirement on a temporary basis to allow for dual compensation of the salary and annuity as necessary.

GAO officials set out to determine which and to what extent agencies used the waiver, and talked to officials at the Office of Personnel Management, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Small Business Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, Treasury Department and the U.S. Postal Service. 

The findings, published in a report titled "Reemployment of Retirees: Six Agencies’ Use of Dual Compensation Waiver Authority is Limited," showed the NDAA waiver authority wasn’t widely used in any of the six agencies. Treasury made the most use of the authority, but still in a limited fashion: 167 waivers in fiscal year 2010 and 214 waivers in fiscal year 2011.

USPS used the authority just once in fiscal 2010, while three agencies didn’t use it all.

In commenting on the report, NRC Executive Director for Operations R.W. Borchardt acknowledged the limited use of the authority but added the agency “nonetheless finds this a valuable human capital tool and hope that we continue to enjoy access to it.”



About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 JanetPilot Nevada

The article states the fact, but does not elude to the WHY. Do the agencies feel betrayed or mad that the employee retired OR that other regular employees would be upset that I would be getting an annuity plus a salary OR what? I know the airline industry is starting to really hurt for qualified / experienced ATP pilots because these people are "aging out" for active flying duties. Anyway, my inquiry on the why.

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 William Clemente New Jersey

I worked for the Internal Revenue Service Agent (RA) for 33 years as an Internal Revenue Agent (IRA). After I retired I was invited back to work as an "Intermittant Annuitant IRA" in 2006 and participated in instructor teams made up of two regular Revenue Agent and one Annuitant RA until 2011 when due to budget reductions my employment was terminated. The annuitants provided a valuable pool on instructors which was very cost effective for the Service as they didn't have to take as many agents "off line" which had a positive effect upon production for the Service I am sure. There are more details I could share if you would like.

Wed, Sep 19, 2012

As a recently retired DOD (NAVEA) employee (38 yrs) and the technical expert in my field, my agency let me, as well all my experience walkout the door. I informed my managers 5 years in advance of my pending retirement. Never was there any effort by my agency to have me mentor or train my prospective replacement. Even though the option was available to re-employ annuitants, specifically for that purpose, it was considered out of the question. My agency has never done it before and probably never will. During my long career I've noticed that anything that changes the status quo is never received well, and my agency always ignored changes like this possibly because someone would have to initiate the process and someone would actually have to do work to complete the action. I am now a contractor for the Govt making much more money than I did when I worked for the Govt. DOD is missing the boat on the option to keep the expertise in house!

Wed, Sep 19, 2012

I don't think GAO did a very thorough search as to who was or was not getting dual compensation. I know for a fact that rehired retirees at the Army Corps of Engineers did not receive a deduction for the annuity they were receiving when they are/were rehired. Each of the rehired retirees receive full salary based on the grade and step in which they retired and full annuity.

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