Housing and Urban Development is the first major executive branch operation to offer a phased-retirement program to employees. HUD has 8,500 workers nationwide, about 3,000 in the Washington area.
Although HUD employees got a heads up alert last week, the official announcement is expected some time this week. This, governmentwide, is a big deal!
The Library of Congress may be the ultimate leader of the pack. It launched a pilot program in December 2014. Although it has some active participants, one employee said that media-wise — at least this part of the media — “phased retirement is alive and well (but) living in obscurity.”
When it came to betting on which major federal operation would be the first to offer employees the phased-retirement option, the so-called “smart” money was on the Defense Department.
In addition to being the largest federal civilian operation, DoD is often the first to innovate new civilian personnel initiatives: Like buyouts, pay banding and performance pay systems. But in the case of the long-awaited phased retirement system, DoD has been bested by HUD.
An Energy Department employee said: “DoE launched its program in March. Not sure that anybody has applied or been accepted yet. But there are rules in place.”
The phased retirement program has been in the works for nearly three years. Congress approved it, and the Office of Personnel Management issued broad guidelines last November. Agencies were told they could offer the option to work part time whenever ready. Defense, as reported here Friday, plans to announce its program within a couple of months, but HUD made it to the finish (or at least starting) line first.
Under the HUD program, approved retirement eligible employees will be allowed to work part time (20 hours per pay period) for one year. That mentoring period could be extended if HUD and the employee agree. Management will select which employees are picked for the program. Those picked will be required to spend at least 20 percent of their time mentoring employees. The issue of what constitutes mentoring has been an issue in other agencies considering the program. In HUD’s case, the idea is to provide in-depth “career advice transferring skills and knowledge to less senior employees.”
Now that HUD has broken the ice, other agencies are expected to unveil their program.
Many agencies may decide that the program is too complicated, or would damage morale among long-time employees who were rejected for the program. So they won’t offer it.
Federal News Radio reported Friday that the Social Security Administration will not be offering any form of phased retirement, at least for now.
Meantime, if you are retirement-eligible, you might want to start deciding whether to apply when and if your agency gives it the green light. There probably won’t be any shortage of volunteers, so start making your mental prep now.
Lt. Joe Friday carried badge number 714 on the Dragnet TV show. Originally Jack Webb, who portrayed Friday, wanted badge 777, which would have tripled his lucky number of “7”. Instead, he settled on badge 714 because it was “7” with the final digits being the total of “7 + 7”.