Wave of Federal Retirements Rolling In

Susan Hall
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The most important questions of an interview might be those that you, the applicant, ask.

We've been hearing that a wave of retirement is expected to sweep through the federal work force. My colleague Ann All has mentioned that more than 16,400 federal technology workers will be eligible to retire by 2012. (Hey, that's just in a few weeks!)


Apparently that wave is upon us. The Office of Personnel Management reports that more than 92,000 government workers applied for retirement in the first 10 months of the year, an increase of 24 percent over the same period in 2010. Of course, that's in government overall, not just tech workers. At that rate, it expects nearly 104,700 federal employees to leave their jobs by the end of the year, Federal Times reports.


About 7 percent of workers eligible to retire in 2008 didn't because their savings took a hit, and OPM reduced its retirement projections over the next few years. In this era of government belt-tightening, though, agencies have been offering buyouts, and with years of potential pay freezes ahead, workers increasingly see little reason to stay, the article says.


It quotes Henry Romero, a former OPM executive who's now a consultant at Federal Management Partners, as saying many large agencies haven't adequately prepared for this:

They'll be shell-shocked when large amounts of expertise goes out the door in one fell swoop.

And yet the work of government goes on. Federal agencies are scrambling to fend off an increasing number of cyber security attacks, but haven't been funded to hire the needed staff - and they're enmeshed in this overwhelming process to define the skills and roles of cyber security workers across agencies.


Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, continuing the work implemented by his predecessor, Vivek Kundra, recently said agency IT project reviews over the past 12 months lead to $932 million in savings and other "cost implications," though John Foley at InformationWeek wonders what that really means. But a survey of federal agency CIOs earlier this year reflected their beliefs that government is getting better at IT.


The federal government has been working hard to attract the next generation of workers, developing mentoring and telework opportunities, among other things. But research has found that nearly a quarter of new hires leave federal government within two years, and in these days of extreme cost-cutting, wage stagnation surely won't help.

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