Federal Diary: Good Retirement News for Some D.C. Workers

Administrator Jane Lubchenco is recasting and adding some senior political positions at NOAA.
Administrator Jane Lubchenco is recasting and adding some senior political positions at NOAA. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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By Ed O'Keefe
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The news just keeps getting better for government employees -- this time, it's some District workers who have reason to cheer.

Diary readers will recall a column Joe Davidson wrote in May about a few hundred D.C. court workers who delayed retirement because of a 1997 law that changed their eligibility. The law treated employees of D.C. Superior Court, the Public Defender Service, and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency as federal employees for retirement purposes.

Staffers hired before October 1987 were already in the federal retirement system, while those hired between then and 1997 had been in the District's retirement system -- and their years of service in that system didn't count toward federal retirement.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who has fought for years to right the wrong, got a measure added to last week's defense authorization bill allowing time served before 1997 to count toward overall retirement eligibility.

"These former D.C. government employees could not retire when expected only because their agency fell under federal control," Norton said in a statement. "Some of these employees have lost time that they cannot recoup, but this bill sets things right for them for now."

So now might be a good time for those wannabe retirees to hang it up and spend more time with the grandkids. Or finally write that novel. Or go on that overdue trip to Europe.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

There's a shake-up happening at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where Administrator Jane Lubchenco is renaming or recasting some senior political positions while adding a few more. It's the agency's first big shuffle since 1970, when the budget totaled roughly $250 million. Almost 40 years later, the budget is $4.5 billion and it's time to change things, she said in a memo to staffers last week. The moves will not adversely affect rank-and-file bargaining unit employees or the traditional reporting structure, Lubchenco said.

NOAA will get a new principal deputy undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere, a Senior Executive Service-level appointee who will oversee day-to-day operations at headquarters in Washington.

A new assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction will supervise the National Weather Service and all other programs and policies related to weather, water, mapping and satellites. The job requires a presidential appointment and Senate confirmation.

Finally, the new deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries, a Senior Executive Service-level appointee, will oversee negotiations on such fisheries.

Lubchenco also announced that the deputy undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere will be retitled deputy undersecretary for operations. The assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere will become the assistant secretary for conservation and management.

WE GET LETTERS

Your (substitute) Diarist has perused the mailbag for some of the best and boldest messages.


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