Legislation designed to boost the federal government’s ability to respond to the potential loss of the nearly 1.8 million federal employees who are eligible for retirement in the next decade to received strong support from the nation’s Inspectors General (IG) community testifying before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. The bipartisan legislation, S. 629, introduced last month by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), would authorize federal agencies to reemploy retired federal employees on a limited basis, without forcing the employee to take a reduction in salary corresponding to their retirement annuity.

“The IG community met this morning to discuss this legislation and offers its wholesale support for S. 629, with no objections,” said Inspector General Anthony Ogden the Inspector General for the Governmental Printing Office and Chair of the Legislation Committee, Inspectors General Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

Others testifying at today’s hearing, Improving the Ability of Inspectors General to Detect, Prevent, and Prosecute Contracting Fraud, included: Brian Miller, IG for the General Services Administration; Richard Skinner, IG for the Department of Homeland Security, and Charles W. Beardall, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Department of Defense. When Sen. Collins, Ranking Member of the full Committee, asked the witnesses if they supported the legislation, S. 629, all responded affirmatively. The witnesses all agreed that the legislation would help to quickly hire experienced staff to conduct audits and investigations of contracting fraud.

“This legislation would prove vital in helping the federal government keep many of its skilled, experienced, senior employees,” said Senator Collins. “Nearly 4,500 federal retirees have returned to work on a full-time basis—demonstrating the importance of these experienced employees to federal operations. This legislation would provide agencies with needed flexibility to bring retirees’ experience back into the federal workforce for limited-time, which is especially needed with federal contracting purchases continuing to grow and to provide effective oversight of stimulus spending.”

The federal government currently loses over 50,000 employees per year to retirement. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) estimates that 60 percent of the current federal workforce of three million will be eligible to retire in the next ten years. At present, if a federal retiree returns to work on a part-time basis, they must take a pay reduction to offset their federal retirement annuity.

Under the legislation, reemployment would be limited to a maximum of 520 hours (65 days) in the first six months following retirement, 1,040 hours (130 days) in any 12-month period, and a total of 3,120 hours (390 days) for any one employee. While the returning annuitants would receive both salary and annuity payments, they would not be considered employees for the purposes of retirement and would receive no additional retirement benefits based on their service.

The legislation was endorsed by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), the Partnership for Public Service, and the Government Managers Coalition.