Is an Aging Federal Workforce a Problem?

Are aging workers the problem for institutions looking for innovative thinking? That’s part of a debate that has been raging in recent days over the graying of the federal workforce.

It started with a column arguing for a plan to increase the number of federal workers under 30 so a new crop of experts can start moving up and be prepared as the older federal workforce starts retiring en mass.

That led to another columnist arguing that it was time the U.S. government got serious about showing a huge number of boomers the door by offering early retirement incentives. Alan Balutis, who is senior director and distinguished fellow with Cisco Systems’ U.S. Public Sector Group, argued that what is wrong with the U.S. government is a stagnation of new ideas:

[W]hen we are asked what the government needs in order to change, the answer is not new legislation, or regulation, better systems or another presidential initiative — although all are important. The common answer is, “We need to change the culture,” Balutis wrote.

And to change the culture, we need to change old thinking, old ways of doing business, old management styles. We need to change many of the senior people.”

For many middle-class African American boomers, many of whom built comfortable lives through service in the federal workforce, a push toward early retirement might be too much too soon. How many are ready for retirement, even if it comes with a $25,000 incentive bonus? How many of us properly weathered the Great Recession? Statistics show that Black Americans were hit harder by the recession because home equity made up a greater portion of Black wealth. So when the home crisis hit, it decimated net worth in many Black households. Coupled with that, the recovery has been slower in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

The talk about cleaning house in the federal work force – to usher in younger people with innovative ideas – should be noted and if you haven’t started to prepare, you need to, especially after this November’s presidential election.

Author: Retha Hill

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