GAO: Agencies rehire few retirees at full pay


About three years ago, Congress granted agencies wide authority to rehire federal retirees and pay them both their full pensions as well as their full salaries. But the Government Accountability Office today released a report that found six federal agencies are barely using the so-called dual compensation waiver authority at all.

GAO looked at how many waivers were granted by the Treasury Department, Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Agency for International Development, Small Business Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in fiscal 2010 and 2011. Those six agencies granted only 187 waivers in the first year, and 247 in the second year. That amounts to less than one thousandth of a percent of the more than 500,000 full-time employees at those agencies.

Treasury made the most use of the dual-comp waivers — 167 in 2010 and 214 in 2011 — mostly to hire former revenue agents to come back to the IRS and train younger agents. But the other five agencies only used them to rehire a handful of retirees each year, if at all.

Congress loosened the dual compensation requirements in October 2009 when it passed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. Previously, agencies had to get OPM’s permission to rehire retirees at their full pay. But the five-year pilot program allows agencies to offer such waivers on their own, as long as the number of rehired retirees don’t exceed 2.5 percent of the agency’s full-time workforce. And if the ranks of rehired retirees at an agency exceeds 1 percent of the workforce, the law also requires that agency to send Congress a report explaining why they need so many.

But of the six agencies GAO surveyed — OPM could not provide reliable information on waiver use throughout the entire government — none even came close to those thresholds.

NRC said in a letter to GAO that even though it used the authority extremely rarely — once in 2011 and not at all in 2010 — it still found it very useful when hiring that key employee. NRC said it hopes the authority will be extended beyond its 2014 expiration date, despite its lack of use.

“NRC appreciates the [dual compensation]flexibility … in order to fulfill functions critical to the mission of the agency,” NRC wrote. “We therefore hope that the authority will be extended.”


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  1. After reading articles like this one I can see why so many Americans dodge paying federal taxes for wasteful programs such as this one. Many of these overpaid pensioners/employees are rehired under the good ole boy government business as usual.

  2. Sounds like sour grapes, Roy. It cost no more to pay a pension and a salary to one person than a pension to one and a salary to another. Plus you get the experience and expertise of a long time employee versus training a new, inexperienced person. If you have worked and earned your retirement what’s the problem with going back to work after retirement?

  3. Many agencies don’t have to worry about the dual compensation rule. Instead of rehiring retirees, the award them personal service contracts at levels often well above their previous salary. The agency I work for is notorius for having a employee retire one day and be back at his/her desk the next day doing the exact same job. And then they fill the open position with a new hire. I have never understood how two people, a contractor and an employee are necessary to do the job previously performed by the now retired individual.

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