HUD touts phased retirement program as means to build a ‘stronger’ agency

The deputy secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development says a phased retirement plan will “help build a stronger” agency.

In a recent email to employees, Nani Coloretti announced HUD opened the program for participation.

“We are happy to report that HUD is the first major executive branch agency to offer a phased retirement program to employees,” Coloretti said in the email, which was obtained by Federal News Radio. “Under phased retirement, certain full time retirement-eligible employees will work a maximum of forty hours each bi-weekly period, while collecting fifty percent of their entitled annuity.”

The program is open to non-bargaining unit employees and National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Bargaining Unit employees, Coloretti outlined in her email.

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Ken Einbinder, chief regional steward for NFFE 1450, said while there hasn’t been “overwhelming demand,” there has been some interest from federal workers.

“People have been calling us with questions,” Einbinder told Federal News Radio. “It remains to be seen how popular the program is going to be. I think the big issue is it requires you to work 50 percent of the time, but 40 percent of that 50 percent has to be directed toward mentoring. Mentoring has a pretty broad definition in how that would work.”

Government Executive first reported HUD’s decision to offer phased retirement.

HUD started a year-long pilot program with the union on Aug. 18, but it’s not the first department to enroll in the program. After the Office of Personnel Management issued its final ruling on the program last year, the Library of Congress launched its version at the end of 2014, while the Department of Energy opened its program in March and the Environmental Protection Agency announced its participation earlier this month.

“The word has been out, we’ve advertised it, management has advertised it saying it’s available,” Einbinder said.

HUD has about 8,500 employees and roughly a third of them in the Washington area.

Einbinder said in recent years HUD has had much as 60 percent of its workforce at or near retirement level.

This phased retirement then, he said, benefits both the employer and employees.

“It’s for people who are at the end of their careers but are not quite sure they totally want to stop working,” he said. “They have one foot out, one foot in the door. They want to sort of test the waters by working half time and basically doing their normal work requirements, but also have the willingness to carry on and teach somebody else, multiple others, mentor them through the work they’ve done during their career. That’s the benefit.”

Coloretti’s email also included an announcement about a program that would make it easier for employees to be laterally reassigned within HUD and managers to reassign them. The Personnel Clearinghouse Program has two parts: General Clearinghouse and Position Specific Clearinghouse.

General Clearinghouse would provide ways for managers to fill positions quickly without requiring them to advertise the reassignment positions like they normally would to fill a vacancy.

The other form of clearinghouse would create a “non-competitive posting” alerting HUD employees to available internal reassignment positions.

A request for additional comment from HUD was not immediately returned.

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