Don’t Go, Please Stay

By Tammy Flanagan

February 6, 2014

Last week’s column, To Stay or Not to Stay in Government, which featured my advice to a federal manager considering a jump to the private sector, hit a nerve with many readers. The benefits of a full career of federal employment and service came through loud and clear in the comments from readers of the column. In addition to the benefits that I pointed out, readers came up with additional reasons to look before you leap away from a career in federal service. There is something to be said about hearing these words of wisdom from those who have been there and are reaping the rewards of a federal career. Here’s a summary of what they had to say.

Advantages of Government

Reasons commenters listed for sticking it out in federal service included:

Pitfalls of the Private Sector

Commenters also noted the following points to consider when exploring opportunities in the private sector:

A Word on Benefits

Some readers cautioned that the relative advantage of federal benefits could be erased over time by the country’s political leaders. Here’s what one wrote:

How likely is it that the federal benefits will remain? As you've seen in the last few years, federal pay and benefits have been on the chopping block every time a budget deal is made. I wouldn't count on Congress keeping the promises that have been made, and the only thing between your pension, sick leave, COLAs when you retire, and health benefits is a stroke of a pen.

My opinion on this is that Congress has a lot at stake if they make negative changes to federal employee benefits. It’s one thing for a lawmaker from a state with a relatively small number of federal employees to propose changes in benefits. Actually passing them into law is a whole other story. That requires garnering the support of other legislators, many of whom represent large numbers of federal workers. Then there’s the influence of lobbyists who are fighting to preserve and protect the valuable and earned benefits of federal employees and retirees.

Congress does seem to be laying the groundwork to change federal retirement benefits under the implementation of a new type of retirement coverage called FERS-Revised Annuity Employees, or FERS-RAE. This new designation covers employees hired in 2013 or later who are required to pay more into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to pay for their future FERS basic retirement benefit. Will there be other changes in store for FERS or FERS-RAE employees? Time will tell.

For more information about how retirement laws actually get changed, tune in to “For Your Benefit” on Monday at 10 a.m. ET on Federal News Radio, when Bob Leins of the National Institute of Transition Planning and I will co-host an interview with Ken Gold and Marian Currinder of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

(Image via vicgmyr/

By Tammy Flanagan

February 6, 2014