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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Linda M. Springer recently urged more than 100 attendees at a National Press Club luncheon to begin developing strategies to deal with an impending increase in federal employee retirements in the next several years. Springer was the keynote speaker for an executive luncheon series titled Human Capital Management in Transformation, sponsored by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) and Government Executive Magazine.
"The workforce is in a transformation now, it's called the retirement wave," Springer said. "The next expected peak wave of federal retirements will occur between 2008 and 2010, and we need to find ways to address this today. The looming retirement situation is definitely one of OPM's primary concerns."
Springer said many federal employees reaching retirement age are individuals who have been with their respective agency in some cases for "20, 30, or even 40 years" and have acquired an institutional knowledge that cannot easily be replaced.
"The loss of so many individuals with a deep, ingrained institutional knowledge of their agency has the potential to cause a lapse or pause of service delivery," Springer said.
Springer offered a multi-faceted approach to addressing the looming retirement situation, including finding ways to retain persons close to retirement age and conducting risk assessments to determine what, if any, impact retirements may have on an agency.
"Agencies need to begin asking themselves: What is the likelihood people will leave? From what part of the agency do we forecast the greatest number of retirees, and what is the risk associated with their departure?" said Springer.
Springer also said agencies need to refocus their human capital management, recruitment, and retention efforts to align with new trends in employee expectations. Many new federal employees, she said, will expect much more work flexibility than their "nine-to-five" predecessors, and pay schedules commensurate with performance and not longevity.
Springer said OPM's recently released Strategic and Operational Plan for 2006-2010 will be used to help federal agencies better meet these and other challenges.
"Our mission statement, as emphasized in this plan, is clear - to ensure the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce."
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.