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Old 05-29-2015, 08:25 AM   #21
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FERS does have a cost of living adjustment each year, but it is less than than the inflation rate. From http://federalretirement.net/cola.htm:

For Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) or FERS Special benefits, if the increase in the CPI is 2 percent or less, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is equal to the CPI increase. If the CPI increase is more than 2 percent but no more than 3 percent, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment is 2 percent. If the CPI increase is more than 3 percent, the adjustment is 1 percent less than the CPI increase. The new amount is rounded down to the next whole dollar.
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Old 05-29-2015, 08:36 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by whiskeypete View Post
Unfortunately the mandatory contribution to the FERS pension fund is now at 4.4% for new employees. I believe it was originally 0.8% which has increased in recent years. 4.4% is quite a sum when you add it up over the years.
I didn't realize the contribution rate had been going up over the years. Yeah, that does take a bite out of things. My Mom was under CSRS, and I forget how much she said she had to pay into it, but I think it was something like 6-7%? She made it the full 42 years, so she got 80%, minus survivor benefits, for my stepdad.

We had a secretary here at work who was CSRS, and had something like 39 years of service. She wanted to stick it out a bit longer, but then word got out that the gov't was going to change the mandatory contribution on something-or-other (either the retirement, or maybe the insurance?). That was also during the time where they had put a freeze on the salaries, and she had been at the top step of her pay grade for years, so she hadn't seen an increase for several years. So in the end, she decided, at the age of 77, that it wasn't worth it to stick around for the 2%/year pension increase, blamed it all on Obama, and retired.
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Old 05-29-2015, 08:39 AM   #23
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IMHO, comparison of career stability and retirement plans is moot unless whiskeypete has a good line on a permanent govt career. Moreover, I am a Federal retiree, and I do not recommend government work unless you're a) in it for a career, b) have a career goal that demands a period of time in govt (i.e. you need to make certain types of contacts), or c) you're a teacher. Teachers, I have observed, can do well if they get into govt early enough in their careers. Something about being well-prepared, well-spoken, and conscientious just seems to propel teachers through the ranks.

Two years with the govt will get Mr. Pete 2 years of TSP matching contributions (assuming he makes his own contributions to be matched), and he can carry that away with him when they push him out the door at the 2-year mark. I don't see other advantages.

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Old 05-30-2015, 06:09 AM   #24
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temporary position or temporary appointment--big difference. I just retired with 36.5 years. no regrets.
to be happy in a govt job, expect a pay chec or a thank you, don't expect a bonus, don't expect a raise. expect a direct deposit 26 times a year and you will be happy!
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:44 AM   #25
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A few questions...from a retired FERS employee who spent some time in private sector. I crossed over the fence at age 30. I went for the job stability and believe it or not, a decent salary increase. I came in as a GS-11, 0855 Electronics Engineer, a higher paid shortage category.

1. Is your offer coming from a well placed government person who can "make things happen" for you after the 2 years ? This is key.
2. Is your current employer going to have a hissy fit if you make this move ? Would you be working on the same exact contract currently held by your employer, just from the other side of the fence ?
3. Does the agency have limited authority to hire and is using Chapter 11 Excepted Service Appointments to hire you ? see reference at OPM http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-overs...ons/gppa11.pdf
The reference is kind of convoluted with tables, but ask the govt HR person exactly which category your potential hire will fall under.
4. Is the agency undergoing a RIF (reduction-in-force), or reducing by attrition (retirements) and therefore unable to do a direct hire ? What does the agency's overall budget look like ?

I can't say which is the best path, given the information here. Hope I gave you some info leads to help you decide.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:20 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
A few questions...from a retired FERS employee who spent some time in private sector. I crossed over the fence at age 30. I went for the job stability and believe it or not, a decent salary increase. I came in as a GS-11, 0855 Electronics Engineer, a higher paid shortage category.

1. Is your offer coming from a well placed government person who can "make things happen" for you after the 2 years ? This is key.
2. Is your current employer going to have a hissy fit if you make this move ? Would you be working on the same exact contract currently held by your employer, just from the other side of the fence ?
3. Does the agency have limited authority to hire and is using Chapter 11 Excepted Service Appointments to hire you ? see reference at OPM http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-overs...ons/gppa11.pdf
The reference is kind of convoluted with tables, but ask the govt HR person exactly which category your potential hire will fall under.
4. Is the agency undergoing a RIF (reduction-in-force), or reducing by attrition (retirements) and therefore unable to do a direct hire ? What does the agency's overall budget look like ?

I can't say which is the best path, given the information here. Hope I gave you some info leads to help you decide.
1. Well I was interviewed by the branch chief and he selected me over other applicants. I currently work for him as a contractor.
2. I will be working the same exact job. Current employer is well aware of the situation and is supportive of me being on the other side of the fence. Many contractors have switched to the other side over the years so there is a good relationship.
3. Not sure. All I know is that it's for an excepted service position (GG) not a competitive service. But most positions in my field are excepted service. Not sure if that answers your question. I will ask HR for clarification.
4. Don't know about the agency's budget. There were several positions decremented recently but I think they are done with those. Several people are retiring in the next couple of years too.
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:01 PM   #27
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1. Well I was interviewed by the branch chief and he selected me over other applicants. I currently work for him as a contractor.
2. I will be working the same exact job. Current employer is well aware of the situation and is supportive of me being on the other side of the fence. Many contractors have switched to the other side over the years so there is a good relationship.
That is pretty much how I made the switch from contractor to feds and no regrets. Where I worked for the feds they had a very generous training budget, something to consider. As a contractor how often does your employers contract with the feds come up for bids/renewal? Typically it was every two years where I worked and often resulted in the contractors jumping over to whichever company won the new contract. That can have a negative impact on some of your benefits. My experience with contracting companies may not be typical but many have a bad habit of seeing employees as warm bodies and sticking them in any position that needs to be filled, without regard to whether or not they are qualified for the position, that can make a job very unpleasant for the employee.
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:52 PM   #28
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That is pretty much how I made the switch from contractor to feds and no regrets. Where I worked for the feds they had a very generous training budget, something to consider. As a contractor how often does your employers contract with the feds come up for bids/renewal? Typically it was every two years where I worked and often resulted in the contractors jumping over to whichever company won the new contract. That can have a negative impact on some of your benefits. My experience with contracting companies may not be typical but many have a bad habit of seeing employees as warm bodies and sticking them in any position that needs to be filled, without regard to whether or not they are qualified for the position, that can make a job very unpleasant for the employee.
Training is highly encouraged so that's definitely a plus. The contractors here have been around for many years until recently they've been awarded for just one more year so it brings a bit of uneasiness. In other contracts I've been involved with contractors just stuck around under different companies. I don't really like that either and in the past I've felt like just a body filling a spot. I guess one of the advantages of being a contractor is the opportunity to hop around and gain new experience, but sometimes you have to be lucky to get those spots to stay employed.
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:09 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by whiskeypete View Post
1. Well I was interviewed by the branch chief and he selected me over other applicants. I currently work for him as a contractor.
2. I will be working the same exact job. Current employer is well aware of the situation and is supportive of me being on the other side of the fence. Many contractors have switched to the other side over the years so there is a good relationship.
3. Not sure. All I know is that it's for an excepted service position (GG) not a competitive service. But most positions in my field are excepted service. Not sure if that answers your question. I will ask HR for clarification.
4. Don't know about the agency's budget. There were several positions decremented recently but I think they are done with those. Several people are retiring in the next couple of years too.
Re: 1. EXCELLENT
Re: 2. Even better.
Re: 3. Ask branch chief first, and let that person get the info for you from HR. If the branch chief is super busy and tells you to contact HR, then go ahead. Follow the "chain of command"...very important in the fed govt.
Re: 4. Ask the branch chief about the local hiring budget. Express your concern about the longevity (NTE 2 years) and your desire to become permanent.

As others have pointed out, the training opportunities in fed service are fabulous, assuming the local training budget is robust. Some of the training can be a real snore, but some of it will really help you grow professionally.
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Old 05-31-2015, 09:18 PM   #30
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IMO only switch to gov if you feel the GS-13 temp gig can land you a career appointment position. If you decide to remain a contractor, continue to look for a federal position.


Im in my 2nd year of switching from contractor to gov position. In my line of w*rk every contractor wants to switch to the feds. Our contractors have little to no benefits and many get laid off for various reasons outside of their control. Ive seen many contractors forced out the door and am convinced that I too would've been unemployed if I had not been hired by the feds.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:49 AM   #31
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I retired from the Feds with 33 years. The way I compare it is like the tortoise and the hare. The hare runs around fast and gets way ahead and the tortoise plods along. The hare gets so far ahead, he decides to take a nap...and the tortoise slogs along to the finish line.

You have to decide whether you want the option to make more money, (but with more job risk), or have a dependable lower income, (and better benefits).

I debated about this my whole career. I was the tortoise. I am glad I am retired, but do think about what the other possibilities would have been from time to time. But, I stuck it out.
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Old 06-01-2015, 05:58 AM   #32
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I retired from the Feds with 33 years. The way I compare it is like the tortoise and the hare. The hare runs around fast and gets way ahead and the tortoise plods along. The hare gets so far ahead, he decides to take a nap...and the tortoise slogs along to the finish line.

You have to decide whether you want the option to make more money, (but with more job risk), or have a dependable lower income, (and better benefits).

I debated about this my whole career. I was the tortoise. I am glad I am retired, but do think about what the other possibilities would have been from time to time. But, I stuck it out.
Love the analogy, thanks!

There's always "what-ifs" that we think about in life, right?
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:30 AM   #33
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I don't think RBD meant to imply that everyone in a government job is a slow plodder. Some certainly are, because they know they can get away with mediocrity and still get paid. However, most of us care about what we do (or we wouldn't be doing it); and getting ahead generally means hard and sometimes (depending on your specialty) even dangerous work.

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Originally Posted by Redbugdave View Post
I retired from the Feds with 33 years. The way I compare it is like the tortoise and the hare. The hare runs around fast and gets way ahead and the tortoise plods along. The hare gets so far ahead, he decides to take a nap...and the tortoise slogs along to the finish line.

You have to decide whether you want the option to make more money, (but with more job risk), or have a dependable lower income, (and better benefits).

I debated about this my whole career. I was the tortoise. I am glad I am retired, but do think about what the other possibilities would have been from time to time. But, I stuck it out.
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