The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued the final regulations on Phased Retirement on August 7, 2014. Phased Retirement will allow full-time employees the opportunity to work part-time while drawing retirement benefits. Phased-retirement debuted as a mentoring tool to preserve the government’s institutional knowledge. As I stated previously, it is a start to something because institutional knowledge certainly needs to be preserved. Creating another method of harnessing that knowledge with an additional price tag may not be the answer. I have no idea what the cost of implementing Phase Retirement will be. As a matter of fact, perhaps the cost with will be nominal to none.
Phased Retirement is yet another example of not catching the red bird before it flies away. In other words, every agency within the Federal Service knows that employees come into the system and then eventually leave. Knowing that and the tremendous wealth of knowledge employees have who have labored in the Federal workforce for an average tenure of 30 years; why is it that the harnessing of such knowledge is not an ongoing part of operations, strategic planning, succession planning?
How is it that such an important aspect of -knowledge transition- would escape the wonderful minds inside of the Federal service? There was absolutely no need to engage in phased-retirement. For what? It seems par-for-the-course that information should be passed on simply as a normal course of business. Is that not part of the definition of supervision – mentoring, championing, directing, pairing more experienced workers with less experienced workers. It is no secret that seasons exist in the entire continuum of life. Somehow, that very notion slipped through the cracks. Although corporate conglomerates like Coke, Pepsi and KFC have trade secrets that are the underpinnings of their success; competitors don’t know the inside secrets, but the insiders know what it takes to keep the vats churning. It is a passing on, as a matter of course, the necessary information to keep the business going.
The dynamic should be no different for the continuity of the Federal Government than it is for Coke, Pepsi and KFC. Information must be passed on from the largest part of the entity to the smallest unit. There is no enterprise capable of continuing without a strategy to pass on necessary and critical information. To allow the red bird to fly away with all the information in his head, needed to build the most intricate and sophisticated nest possible, and then try to get him back after he has flown away is almost suicidal. The institutional knowledge the Federal Government is now trying to harness via Phased Retirement has always been there. The problem is that the entire Federal Government failed to develop a strategy that would preserve the necessary knowledge needed to keep the agencies of the Federal Government going in the same manner as the Chief Executive Officer of the United States, the Office of the President. The transition from President to President from the days of George Washington to Barack Obama has always been seamless. The same transition of knowledge is possible for the entire Federal Government through Phased Retirement.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.
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