National Commentary

Congressman Moran’s News Commentary

This month, the House passed a raft of federal employees’ related legislation that would reform the federal retirement system.

The legislation, H.R. 1804 “The Federal Retirement Reform Act of 2009” included three pieces of legislation which I have championed this year and in previous Congresses.

The three bills I sponsored that are included in H.R. 1804 are as follows:

H.R.828 — FERS Redeposit Act: Allows an individual who has returned to government service and who has received a refund of retirement contributions under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) system to deposit the amount that was received, with interest, to the credit of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

This legislation will entice experienced federal employees to return to government service at a time when our nation needs its best and brightest the most. The bill was developed in response to a coming ‘brain drain’ – the fact that in eight years, 90 percent of civil service federal executives will be over the age of 50 and nearing retirement. This ‘brain drain’ is a grave threat to our well-functioning federal workforce.

H.R.958 – FERS Sick Leave Bill: Requires that the total service of a FERS employee at retirement or who dies leaving a survivor entitled to benefits must include the employee’s days of unused sick leave for annuity computation.

The FERS ‘use-it or lose-it’ system for sick leave hampers productivity and increases training costs to the tune of $68 million/year. We need to be incentivizing the accrual of sick leave, not encouraging employees to call in sick in the weeks leading up to retirement. Our federal workforce is the best in the world; they deserve a benefit designed to reward, not punish, those who play by the rules.

H.R.1198 — Part-Time Federal Employees Equity Act of 2009: Exempts a federal employee’s part-time service performed before April 7, 1986, from proration requirements for purposes of annuity computation under the Civil Service Retirement System.

We must stop penalizing employees trying to extend their careers by working part-time. The disincentives and restrictions imposed by the federal pension system are artificial barriers to part-time service that need to be eliminated.

These tweaks to the FERS retirement plan and to part time service will strengthen our civil service, better equipping it to the meet the needs of workers in the 21st century. The bill’s reforms are fully paid for by an increase in the tax on tobacco products. I will be encouraging supportive Senators to bring this legislation to the floor in the coming months, so that we can make this much needed reform law.

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