New Congress Likely to Attempt Federal Pension Reform

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The New Congress has already proved it has its eye on retirement benefits.

But even with lawmakers’ eyes locked on Social Security, there may be federal pension changes coming down the pipeline.

Many lawmakers are weighing changes to the federal pension system, and new legislation on that front could surface this year, according to two key committee chairmen.

The two lawmakers leading the push for federal pension reform are:

* Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

* Rep. Mark Meadows R-N.C., chairman of a subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that focuses on the federal workforce.

More on their plans from the Federal Times:

As the new Congress kicks into gear, lawmakers want to take another crack at reforming the civil service.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he will look at reforming all aspects of the federal workforce, from hiring and firing authorities to pensions and pay.

“We have jurisdiction on the federal workforce and there is no doubt we are going to bring that up,” Chaffetz. “From soup to nuts: Everything from how we hire them on the back end to how we pay them out in the retirement system.”

[…]

As Congress kicks into gear, Meadows believes the committee will be working on legislation for at least some parts of civil service reform.

“I would be very surprised if there were not a number of legislative initiatives and certainly, as a subcommittee chairman, I am prepared to be very proactive,” Meadows said.

What might the reforms look like? A likely bet is legislation that would shift new federal hires into a 401(k)-type plan, as opposed to the current defined-benefit system.

The reforms might be rolled out slowly at first, and could be focused on a particular government agency to study the effects before implementing the reforms across all agencies.

The outgoing Postmaster General has even suggested that any pension reforms be “tested” out on the Post Office first.

The Postmaster said:

Outgoing Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has called for an end to the defined-benefit pension system and instead shift to a 401(k)-style retirement policy. He said Postal Service reform could also serve as a precursor to governmentwide civil service reform.

“I would encourage Congress to view the Postal Service as a test bed or laboratory of change that might be applied to the rest of the federal government,” Donahoe said.

He said agencies need to be be able to control costs and plan for the future while getting the flexibility to experiment without rigid workforce rules and he said the Postal Service could be at the forefront of that change.

“In today’s world, does it really make sense to offer the promise of a government pension to a 22-year-old who is just entering the workforce? And how reliable is that promise?” Donahoe asked. “I’d like to see the Congress encourage much more experimentation at the federal level. “

No legislation has yet been proposed.

 

Photo by  Bob Jagendorf via FLickr CC License

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