Let the Rumors Begin

Time flies when you are having fun!

Just think: next month virtually every still-on-the-job fed who is under the Civil Service Retirement System will have at least 25 years of service. There may be a few exceptions but most of you active (as opposed to retired) CSRS types have been at it for a quarter of a century.

This fact of the calendar has jump-started a rumor that usually doesn’t get rolling until January each year. That rumor is that the government is secretly planning to push/lure CSRS types into retirement. The rumor has been around in one form of another for a dozen years and it hasn’t happened yet. But chances are you will be getting bogus reports – typically via e-mail and often disguised as a “news” story – saying the super buyout of CSRS folks is in the works. It isn’t!

Think about it. The government is worried about a brain drain. It’s even officially been called a retirement tsunami. The idea (which first surfaced about 1999) is that experienced old-timers will abandon the government in large numbers, leaving younger, less experienced people with a different work ethic in charge. Or blundering around trying to figure out how things work.

The tsunami hasn’t hit. Yet. But the numbers are there. A significant number of key people – like veteran air traffic controllers with age-limited careers – will be retiring sooner rather than later. Some of them will have to go.

“People believe this CSRS-buyout rumor because they want to believe it,” a former OPM official said. “It makes perfect sense, to them, that the government wants to push them out because they would like to be pushed out with a super-buyout and a sweet early-retirement deal. It’s like the old fable of convincing the fox to throw the rabbit in the briar patch instead of eating said rabbit.”

The rumor makes perfect sense, he said, “until you analyze it.” The government is worried about losing experienced talented people… not in pushing them out. This isn’t the 1990s when we downsized for the sake of downsizing. Look at what’s happening in reality. Congress is working on an administration backed bill to lure people back into federal service by allowing them to keep their civil service annuities and get their full GS pay for the job they are hired, or rehired, to do.”

He said it also helps “if you are a little bit paranoid” to believe the superbuyout-superearlyout rumor. Why? Because the rumor has all the elements of a conspiracy: The government is on on it. The media is in on it. Everybody knows it except ordinary people. “It would make a good TV series because it is pure fantasy… like throwing the rabbit in the briar patch… where he wants to go and would be safe.

The super buyout-early out rumor “makes sense to them in large part because they want it to happen,” said a benefits expert. But “when you break it down…it doesn’t make sense because the government is trying to prevent, not create a brain drain.”

So if the only reason you are hanging on is to cash in on this one, you had better make yourself very comfortable because it’s going to be a long, long wait.

Nearly Useless Factoid

Today is National Card Playing Day. Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. The king of spades is King David, hearts is Charlemagne, clubs is Alexander the Great, and diamonds is Julius Caesar.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

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