Is there a better way to spend a beautiful late summer day than to look at reports from the Office of Personnel Management?

We all know the answer to that, but nonetheless, occasionally there are a few interesting nuggets in the reams of material OPM distributes.

Take the latest report, covering calendar year 2009, on the three Rs — not reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic — even though it is back-to-school time. These three Rs stand for the recruitment, relocation and retention of federal employees.

Even during times of high unemployment, Uncle Sam sometimes feels the need to flash some cash to get highly talented people to join his staff, or to move them to where they are needed most.

Here are few interesting details:

• “Miscellaneous clerk and assistant” is second on the list of occupations for which agencies most frequently paid recruitment incentives. It seems like it would be pretty easy to find clerks, particularly when many other occupations high on the recruitment list are those in the sciences. Nurse is number one, mechanical engineer is number three. Others in the health professions and the sciences dominate the other top spots.

In 2009, Sam paid recruitment incentives worth almost $2.1 million to 622 clerks; 612 were in the Defense Department. The average incentive was more than $3,300.

•The position of “miscellaneous administration and program” is found in each of the three R categories. It is in third place on the recruitment table, fourth place in relocation and 12th among the top 20 occupations for which retention bonuses were paid. Apparently, miscellaneous administration and program people are really in demand. Who knew?

•Forestry technician was the top occupation receiving retention incentives.

“A large portion of these (1,962 out of 2,072) were paid by Agriculture [Department] as part of a group retention incentive authorization covering forestry technicians in the Pacific Southwest region who are firefighters,” the report explains. “This region is in the area hardest hit by seasonal wild land fires and Agriculture must compete with State and local entities for employees with firefighting skills.”

Agriculture established a new incentive program for these workers in 2009. Without the forestry technicians group, the overall number of retention bonuses would have dropped by 2.3 percent. Instead, incentives to keep employees who were likely to leave the federal service without that inducement rose more than 5 percent.

“Retention incentives paid to employees likely to leave for another Federal position increased from one incentive in calendar year 2008 worth $1,602 to 30 incentives in calendar year 2009 worth $127,244,” the report said.

Bosses must have decided they needed to do something to keep their good workers from being raided by other federal agencies.


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