Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Retirement headline says it all

We read an article this week that detailed the rising rate of retirements among public employees. State and local, that is. In some states, workers are knocking down the doors to get out.

Although the Wall Street Journal article describes this phenomenon at the state and local level, a lot of the material in the story echoes the same anxieties that have become familiar to feds in recent months. Example: “Some workers have been required to take unpaid furlough days, and many fear they’ll lose benefits at the center of political battles.”

But it was the subhead above the top of the piece that caught our attention because it brought up an issue that seems to be missing from many of the “cut-cut-cut” arguments concerning the federal workforce floating around Washington these days. The subhead said: “Governments Save Money, but Lose Expertise.”

Seems simple enough, but we’ll bet that many of the budget-cutters in Congress advocating for a leaner, cheaper workforce are more concerned with running the numbers than examining the operational consequences.

The expertise issue was critical enough when, in the natural course of things, baby boomers began to retire at an increasing pace and take their institutional knowledge with them. But now all levels of government, including federal (think the U.S. Postal Service) are coming up with incentives to lure senior employees into retirement or introducing disincentives that make retirement appear to be the better option for those who are eligible to take it.

While we have heard for a long time about the impending brain drain as more boomers exit the federal workforce, the changing nature of public-sector employment might soon give even greater numbers of experienced senior employees a hard nudge toward the door.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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