Lawmakers press OPM to finally begin ‘phased retirement’ for federal workers

Lawmakers from both parties are pressuring the Office of Personnel Management to finalize long-delayed rules for a highly anticipated “phased retirement” program that Congress approved for federal employees two years ago.

Four Democrats and two Republicans issued a letter this month to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and acting White House Budget Director Brian Deese expressing frustration with how long OPM has taken to create guidelines for the program, which allows retirement-eligible employees to work part-time while training their successors.

“As you may be aware, many federal employees have given up hope that OPM will ever take final action,” the letter said. “These employees are choosing to completely retire in frustration that they will never have the opportunity to support their agencies in mentoring and training the next generation of civil servants on a part-time basis.”

Office of Personnel Management headquarters. (Wikimedia Commons).
Office of Personnel Management headquarters. (Wikimedia Commons).

All but one of the six lawmakers who signed the letter represent districts in fed-heavy Maryland and Virginia. They included Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

The National Treasury Employees Union, one of largest labor groups for federal workers, commended the lawmakers for their “letter and efforts in making phased retirement a reality.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also issued a letter this month to Archuleta requesting a timeline for finalizing the phased-retirement rules and an explanation for the delay.

“It has been two years since enactment of the statutory authority, and one year since proposed regulations were issued,” Issa said. “This raises concerns that OPM is unnecessarily delaying the rule and impeding the law from being carried out as Congress intended.”

An OPM spokesperson said the agency is “working hard” to complete the guidelines and that it hopes to have them finished by September. “Most importantly, we want to make sure we get it right,” the spokesperson said.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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