DOI authorized to rehire retirees

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The U.S. Department of Interior has been authorized by the Office of Personnel Management to waive the dual compensation restrictions on hiring reemployed annuitants into positions directly related to wildland firefighting operations. According to documentation recently received by local fire offices:

This authority only extends to temporary, mission critical employment in positions that directly fight fires or immediately support fire fighting operations for no longer than the emergency exists. Management, at their discretion, may submit requests for approval of a dual compensation waiver to the Deputy Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation Directorate, Bureau of Land Management at the National Interagency Fire Center. This authority is limited to the conditions outlined in the memorandum from the Associate Deputy Secretary, Delegated Authority to Waive Dual Compensation Reduction in Support of Wildland Firefighting Operations, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) memorandum, Delegation of Authority dated July 2, 2008.

Some of the documentation sent to the field included this information.

There are several requirements that would have to be satisfied before a retiree start work. Here are a few. See the above document for a complete list.

  1. It must be National Preparedness Level 4 or 5.
  2. There is no regular employee available to fill the position.
  3. Former employees who took a “buy out” are not eligible.
  4. The person must be used to fight fires, support fires, back fill behind someone assigned to fires, or train firefighters.
  5. The person must turn down working without the waiver of dual compensation and working as an AD.
  6. Process the personnel action, and process pay documents.
  7. Drug testing, a physical, and the work capacity test may be required.
  8. Mission critical fire suppression activities are expected to continue for at least 14 days.
  9. The BLM’s Deputy Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation must approve each re-hire.

Obviously it could take a long time to go through all of the steps before a person could begin work. By that time, the PL could have dropped below 4. In contrast, it’s very easy to begin work as an AD. Anyone considering this should run the numbers and compare how much they would make either way.

I made the comparison for a Type 1 Section Chief working 10 hours a day for 2 weeks, and the person would make 13% more by going the re-hired annuitant route if their last federal job was a GS-12 step 4. Working more than 10 hours a day would make the re-hired annuitant position even more favorable. But different AD jobs and GS rates would give you vastly different numbers.

As far as I know the U.S. Forest Service has not asked for this waiver for many years, and this only applies to former Dept. of Interior personnel.

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