Six major agencies moving into the Department of Homeland Security could lose roughly a quarter to half of their staffs to retirement in the next five years, according to data collected by the Partnership for Public Service.
The data show that about twice as many employees at the six agencies will be eligible to retire by the end of 2008 than are currently eligible. Here are the percentages of employees that will be eligible, according to the data:
* 59 percent at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
* 54 percent of the Coast Guard.
* 46 percent of the U.S. Customs Service.
* 44 percent of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
* 32 percent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
* 22 percent of the Secret Service.
Overall, 26,363 employees out of 67,166 at the six agencies would be eligible to retire in 2008, according to the snapshot taken in 2001, the latest data available.
Max Stier, the partnership's president, said the Department of Homeland Security could face a "one-two punch" if it follows private-sector trends. A survey by Watson Wyatt consultants found that 47 percent of company executives depart in the first year of a corporate merger and 75 percent leave in the first three years, Stier said.
"Understanding that some of this turnover will be necessary, the prospect of losing three-quarters of the managers responsible for critical homeland security functions means we must work fast and hard to bridge the growing gap between the supply of and demand for critical talent," Stier said.
Retirement scenarios are based on moving targets, to some degree. The percentage of retirement eligibles in 2008 can change if more or fewer employees leave between now and then. In the past, relatively few employees have retired in the year they became eligible. Given the slumping economy, administration officials think employees will be staying on the federal payroll longer rather than depending on retirement savings and pensions.
Last month, at a meeting with employees transferring to the new department, Tom Ridge, the president's nominee for homeland security secretary, reassured employees that they would not take a pay cut, would not face quick changes in personnel rules and most likely would not have to relocate to a new duty station.
"We like experience," Ridge told the employees.
Marcia Marsh, a vice president of the partnership, said yesterday that the homeland department must make it a priority to win "the hearts of key talent at all levels in the organization -- target those people you absolutely can't afford to lose and get them on board first."
The department also should launch a "war for talent," Marsh said. Creating a process for hiring and staffing will help the department place "the right people in all of the key positions up and down the organization," she said.
Marsh's comments came during discussion of the homeland transition on Federal Diary Live at www.washingtonpost.com. The partnership is a nonprofit group working with federal agencies to revitalize federal service.
Homeland security officials, Marsh said, must focus on how "to help reduce anxiety and, most importantly, to keep productivity up. If each employee spends one hour a day -- not unreasonable -- asking questions, most of which are totally work-related, about what change means, we are losing 170,000 hours a day which should be focused on keeping us safe."
Judicial Pay Raises The House voted yesterday to provide federal judges with a 3.1 percent increase in pay. The bill, approved on a voice vote, would raise the salary of a federal district judge to $154,700, up from $150,000.
The increase would keep federal judges' pay in line with that of members of Congress and federal employees, who also received a 3.1 percent increase in pay this year. Under the bill, the pay of the chief justice would go to $198,600 and Supreme Court associate justices to $190,100. Appeals court judges would get $164,000.
The House sent the bill to the Senate. Bill sponsors said President Bush supports the judicial raise.
National Guard Answers Charles Dawson, of Veterans Employment and Training Services at the Department of Labor, will discuss the employment rights and responsibilities of federal employees who serve in the National Guard and reserves on "FEDtalk" at 11 a.m. tomorrow on federalnewsradio.com.
Stephen Barr's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.