Task force recc’s eliminating FERS, implementing merit-based compensation

A congressional task force charged with improving government efficiency is proposing to eliminate the “simultaneously immoderate and unstable” Federal Employees' Retirement System and to make improvements to the federal government workforce.

“The Task Force commends those federal workers that approach each day as an opportunity to serve the American people but are guided by the age-old truth that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, ”the report –100+ Commonsense Solutions to a Better Government – by the Government, Efficiency, Accountability and Reform Task Force states. “With this in mind, the Task Force seeks to advance reforms that ensure that the federal government has the strongest links possible for the sake of ensuring the American people are served by an efficient and accountable government.”

The group’s recommendations includes more than 100 “common sense” solutions to address inefficiency and waste and reemphasize and reward innovation in the federal workforce.

One focus is to reign costs of the largest benefit-based expenses of the federal government, the federal pension system, which the report describes as immoderate, unstable and a burden.

According to the report, feds receive about 14 percent in retirement benefits (which requires a low rate of error based compared to just 3 percent for private sector employees.

“The authors of the report strongly disagree with the current retirement structure,” the report states, adding that instead, FERS should be enhanced to a Thrift Savings Plan-only system.

Federal employees currently also receive the 401k-style TSP retirement benefit, but it makes up a much smaller portion piece of the retirement package.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016, these benefits cost taxpayers $91 billion, with $83 billion for federal pensions and, $8 billion for TSP contributions.

“The GEAR Task Force supports a phase-out of the FERS system for future federal hires, eventually offering an enhanced TSP-only system in its place,” the authors write. “This would raise the base federal TSP contribution as well as the cap on federal matches.”

“By having a higher contribution threshold with an increased benefit option, employees will one-day invest more personally in their savings and have a more transparent view of their personal responsibility in saving for retirement,” they add.

In addition, the report urged merit-based compensation similar to that of the private sector employment industry, and a more streamline hiring process.

The task force is urging support of the MERIT Act, which would shorten the timeframe to remove a bad employee to 30 days. It currently takes over 300 days to remove a toxic federal worker.

“By eliminating the red tape that exists when taking adverse actions against a bad actor in the federal ‘government and allowing for senior executives to be removed rather than demoted, the MERIT Act offers a framework much closer to the efficiency and rigor found in the private sector,” the report notes.

The bill also gives leaders authority to recoup bonuses paid to employees who were later found to have committed workplace violations.

Another effort is to limit the retirement compensation awarded to a federal employee removed for committing a felony in abuse of their official duties.

Bureaucracy often “laughably def[ies] common sense,” and the task force’s goal is to reevaluate status quo.

“Under current law, agencies may indefinitely suspend without pay an individual who committed a serious crime, while their removal is processed,” the report notes.

View the full report with its recommendations to improvement to the federal workforce here.


Reader comments

Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Eliminating the FERS retirement plan/program for all political, congressional and senate individuals would be fine. The congress and senate would have strict term limits imposed so they do not become career politicians who do nothing except add to the bloat in the federal budget. The political appointment positions should be examined well and eliminate the ones not needed and more strict adherence to stopping these individuals keeping their appointments when an administration changes. FERS was the replacement for CRCS and no why do these panel of supposed experts (most likely minions) figure that new career civil servants do not need a defined retirement as stipulated in the FERS program. The best option is to go back to CRCS system which worked for many decent hard working civil servants. With the ways the president, congress and senate behave why would any one choose civil service career knowing that the government could be shut down because of the stupidity of a few minions running the show.

Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Eliminate the number of congressional and senate representatives to one per state. This would save substantial amounts of money to the tax payers. Since the congress and senate do absolutely nothing for the American citizen, their bloated numbers that would be eliminated would be one of the best things done. Also reduce the number of political appointees since most are clueless, corrupt and can not function as a federal employee like the honest hard working career federal employees do on a daily basis to help the American public. Civil servants have been kicked in the face by both Democratic and Republican administrations for years. The unions do nothing to help such employees since they go along with the administrations whims and policies.

Wed, Feb 19, 2020

The TSP only option would need to be accompanied by a guaranteed annual cost of living raise, at a minimum. You can't expect a federal employee to be putting funds into TSP when their wages are not keeping up with the cost of living.

Wed, Feb 19, 2020

No problem, Just make sure that THE Whole Congress HAS to Follow. We the people need to start voting out anyone that has 2 terms. Fresh perspective every2 terms.

Tue, Feb 18, 2020 Hinterlands

Once again, the R's show that they detest peons having a reasonable living and retirement. Better to make a few extremely wealthy, and the rest have just enough to not starve. FERS was ballyhooed to represent a fairer retirement system, when all it was was the beginning of taking away what little peons had. Now, see the liars propose further reductions in income for the lower level workers, so that the powerful can exercise stronger control of the direction of the country. Used to have respect for the R's, even when largely disagreeing with their politics, but to a group of people who claimed the high moral ground over the D's for so many years, they've shown that, just like Cheeto, their words are just wind, with no substance other than empowering the antithesis of American patriotism. Liars that are well described in the Bible--" Woe to them who call evil good and good evil." Look at yourselves, R's in both houses of Congress, and behold enablers of evil, and some of you are even participants thereof. A pox on your house.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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