Phased — or fazed — retirement flop?

When it comes to programs designed to benefit federal workers and the taxpayers too, the biggest loser may be the phased retirement program launched six years a...

When it comes to programs designed to benefit federal workers and the taxpayers too, the dud-of-the-decade, the biggest loser may be the highly-touted phased retirement program launched six years ago.

Like the good ship Titanic, it was launched as the best of the best. Phased retirement was billed as a solution to the impending brain drain, which has been expected since the late 1990s and which threatened to leave Uncle Sam dumber than a bag of hammers.

It was also a no-cost solution to agency training and succession programs. Let skilled old-timers work reduced hours while training their replacements. What’s not to like?

It was assumed that under phased retirement, tens of thousands of retirement-age feds — a huge chunk of the total federal workforce — would sign deals with their agencies to work either part-time, or full-time three or four days per week. While they were phasing into retirement these civil service veterans, the brains, would use part of their time training younger employees to succeed them when they finally turned in their papers.

The only downside to phased retirement, backers said, was that many of those who applied for it would be turned down by their bosses. Some agencies expected up to 10 percent of their workforce would soon be on phased retirement, at least by now. It was considered the perfect solution: Long-time employees could get a taste of retirement before going cold turkey into retirement with less income and a lot more leisure time.

With a large number of Uncle Sam’s 2.1 million workers non-postal workforce eligible, could agencies satisfy the predicted huge number of applicants for phased retirement? What could possibly go wrong?

What if, of the hundreds of thousands of workers eligible to retire or enlist in the phased retirement plan, only 417 people signed up for the program. And what if, after all these years, just over 200 were actively participating in it.

The surprisingly small number of takers to the much-advertised program was first reported by Federal News Radio’s Nicole Ogrysko earlier this week. Some large agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, didn’t offer the phased retirement option to its large workforce. But of those that did two of them were in agencies the Trump administration is leaning on: The Environmental Protection Agency, which has 48 in the program, and the Department of the Interior, which has 35 in the program.

The agency with the most people who signed up for phased retirement is NASA. Maybe they really are rocket scientists?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The most common form of legislation enacted by Congress is naming dedications for post offices — between 20 and 30 percent.

Source: USPS

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