U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, today introduced bipartisan legislation along with Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) designed to enhance 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. This important legislation 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.

“This legislation would prove vital as the federal government loses 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 experience 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 now given the expertise the government will need to effectively implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

“Giving the government the flexibility to call on retired federal workers will help slow the government’s impending brain drain. This bill will ensure that our most experienced federal employees will be paid fairly for their continued contributions,” said Special Committee on Aging Chairman Kohl.

To effectively oversee stimulus spending, Inspectors General will have to quickly hire experienced auditors and investigators. This legislation would allow IG offices to bring back experienced employees to the federal government to ensure aggressive oversight, enhanced transparency, and accountability for taxpayer dollars. At a Committee hearing earlier this month, Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro testified that the reemployment of annuitants is an essential authority that the Government Accountability Office utilizes when circumstances call for rapid staffing increases.

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. In a letter to Senator Collins, NARFE President Margaret Baptiste noted, “Federal retirees should receive the full salary of their new job without any offset against the retirement annuities they earned through prior federal service. Your bill is a welcomed expansion of this access.”