If you are one of the 29,000 people offered the chance to retire early last year and you didn't take it, don't worry. Some of the approximately 3,900 people who took the early-out offer are desperately trying to get back into their old government jobs or any government jobs.

Many of the unhappy retirees have contacted their old agency or the Office of Personnel Management asking about reemployment opportunities. Some have asked that their early retirement be voided, and some have demanded that the government take them back. There are two primary reasons for their unhappiness.

Many discovered that job opportunities in the private sector are slim or nonexistent. Some people retired thinking that they would get another job or go into that Washington favorite -- "consulting" -- to make extra money.

Second, some complain that retirement, especially at an early age, is boring or that they underestimated their living expenses. Many people retired to take advantage of the lump-sum pension payment. But after paying taxes on that money, many spent it and now find they must live on greatly reduced annuities.

Last year the Office of Personnel Management approved 65 special early-outs. They ranged from small agencies or parts of agencies to department-wide early-outs, such as the one approved for non-critical District government employees. Most of the early-out approvals were for Defense Department units that were cutting jobs.

During an early-out, employees can retire at age 50 with 20 years' service or at any age with 25 years' service on immediate annuities. Pensions are reduced 2 percent for each year the retiree is under age 55.

Normally the earliest a federal employee can retire is at age 55 with 30 years of service.

The average early-retiree last year was 53 with 26 years of service. Those who are trying to get back into government will come back as reemployed annuitants. That means their salary will be reduced by the amount of their pension.

OPM has not approved any new early-outs this year.

Show the Flag

The Bureau of Land Management is adding American flag patches to the uniforms worn by 5,000 of its 8,750 employees. It will take an estimated 25,000 of the 2-by-3 1/2 inch patches to go on shirts, vests, jackets and coveralls issued to employees and in some cases volunteers.

Job Mart

The Federal Aviation Administration has openings for senior technical program managers (research and development), Grades 14 and 15. Call Joyce Gillen at 202-267-8862.

The Agricultural Research Service in Greenbelt needs two employee relations specialists, GS 9 through 13. Call 301-344-4587.

Agriculture's Animal-Plant Health Inspection Service in Hyattsville is looking for a GM (merit pay) 13 evaluation specialist. Call 301-436-8511.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants a GS 9 through 12 electronics engineer. Call Ruth Gray at 301-492-6500.

Labor Relations Pros

The Society of Federal Labor Relations Professionals will have its annual symposium on March 6 to 8 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Call Joyce K. Blackwell at 202-785-8529.