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About 30 percent of the federal civilian workforce will be eligible to retire in September 2017, causing concern for critical skills gaps, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued Jan. 29.

Nearly 600,000 federal workers will have the option to retire at that time. GAO, in a separate report, said human capital planning and broader organizational strategic planning will be essential for retaining talent, skill and experience in agencies.

The study also noted retirement rates held relatively steady at 3.5 percent during an eight-year span between 2004 and 2012. During the recession in 2009, retirement rates dropped to 2.5 percent.

In addition, the study reported the federal non-postal civilian workforce grew 14 percent in those eight years.

Three agencies accounted for 94 percent of the growth.

The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs saw humongous growth compared to other parts of the government.

In the eight-year span, the workforce grew from 1.88 million in 2004 to 2.13 million in 2012, permanent career employees accounting for all but about 2,000 of those jobs.

DOD explained its large increase in employees has a conversion of some positions from military to civilian. Other factors included the hiring of acquisition and cybersecurity workers.

Medical and health related hires were the reason for VA’s job surge, and the proliferation of jobs in DHS was due to the nation’s border security requirements, the report said.

Ten agencies actually reduced the number of employees they retained over the eight-year period.

  • DD

    What are the ten agencies that actually reduced the number of new hire employees?

    • Scott Maucione

      The ten agencies with negative job growth were the Agriculture Department, Education Department, Department of
      Housing and Urban Development, Interior Department, Treasury Department, EPA,
      GSA, NASA, Small Business Administration and the Social Security Administration.

  • Spencer

    I actually would disagree with the concern posed in this article. I think retirement is much needed for most of these folks and it will create more opportunity with an enthusiastic workforce. If that doesn’t work, they can just hire more contractors.

  • Scott Maucione

    The ten agencies with negative job growth were the Agriculture Department, Education Department, Department of
    Housing and Urban Development, Interior Department, Treasury Department, EPA,
    GSA, NASA, Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration.

  • DD

    I agree with Spencer’s assessment. A lot of the new hires are substantially more productive and brighter than the employess with 30+ years experience.