Language to ease rehiring of retirees makes it into Defense authorization

Lawmakers withdrew several federal workforce reforms from the Senate's 2010 Defense Authorization bill on Thursday in the face of an angry filibuster from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., but a provision to make it easier to rehire annuitants survived in the budget legislation.

The Senate approved an amendment from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to S. 1390, which would allow agency heads to waive the requirement for retirees who are rehired part time to take a cut in their annuity checks. The authorization bill passed 87-7 late Thursday.

Under current Office of Personnel Management regulations, federal retirees can return to work for government part time, but in most cases their annuities are reduced by the amount they earn on the job, unless they receive a waiver from OPM. Agencies say this makes it harder to bring back experienced staff, especially if they're needed on short notice.

The retiree language originally was part of a larger amendment from Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, which included other federal personnel reforms, which management and labor groups supported.

But in an unusual move, Coburn filibustered the amendment for an hour and a half, saying its price tag was too steep in a time of recession and high unemployment. After Akaka withdrew his amendment, Collins offered the chapter dealing with rehiring federal retirees as a separate amendment, which was approved by voice vote.

The bill now will go to a conference committee, where its fate is uncertain. The House version of the Defense authorization, which was passed in late June, does not include the language in Collins' amendment. Despite broad bipartisan support in the Senate, the American Federation of Government Employees and other federal labor unions have spoken out against changing the policy on rehiring annuitants, saying it would put current employees at a disadvantage and circumvent fair hiring practices. By contrast, advocates say the legislation would make it easier to hire talented workers quickly to deal with immediate challenges, such as administering billions of dollars in stimulus funding.

In response to union concerns, the legislation includes several limitations on how long rehired annuitants could work for the government, such as a cap of 1,040 hours in a 12-month period. Also, the number of rehired retirees could not exceed 2.5 percent of an agency's workforce.

The good news for budget hawks: The retiree legislation would not generate substantial personnel costs, according to a Congressional Budget Office study. CBO said the bill primarily would ease the "administrative burden" of obtaining waivers from OPM, but it probably wouldn't increase the number of retirees in the federal workforce.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.