Will the government’s long-touted, eagerly anticipated phased retirement actually begin before President Donald Trump‘s second inauguration?
Will cautious federal agencies still be studying the concept of letting select people work and mentor part-time when on-term President Bobby Jindal turns the ship of state over to Sen. Bernie Sanders, upset winner of the 2020 election?
Inquiring feds want to know. At least those who haven’t forgotten there is (or rather, could be) such a thing.
Long-time fed watchers predict that the Defense Department will shortly take the lead and announce a phased-retirement program. Paige Hinkle-Bowles, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, told Federal News Radio’s Lauren Larson that DoD expects its phased retirement policy to be ready in the next few months. Shortly thereafter (depending on when the thereafter is) other agencies will unveil their programs and begin letting selected workers go part-time.
Defense is often first out of the gate in implementing new, sometimes controversial, federal personnel programs. It pioneered the buyout program in the 1990s. And phased in the first pay-for-performance program that was doomed from the start. It crashed and burned after a couple of years and before others could adopt it or something like it.
Congress OK’d the phased retirement program several years ago. The Office of Personnel Management gave it the green light last year, and said agencies could start accepting applications last November. That was assuming they had a program that, to date, nobody has.
While it is possible that phased retirement programs will vary somewhat agency-to-agency it is also likely that whatever Defense does in the next couple of months will set the pattern for most other agencies.
So what are the rules of phased retirement? Well, they are pretty broad. There is no time limit on how long phased retirement could last. It could be 6 months, it could, in theory, be a year or more. Workers would have to be eligible for regular retirement. They would be paid for 20 hours of a 40-hour pay period, and get their earned annuity for the other 20 hours.
Mentoring is required. The law says that 20 percent of the phased-retirement time must be spent mentoring. Which means … what?
Nobody has yet defined exactly what constitutes mentoring that will count.