The Foreign Service Journal - June 2014 - page 47

JUNE 2014
AFSA receives many mes-
sages from annuitants
regarding the Department
of State’s When Actually
Employed program. We
appreciate the feedback
provided by our member-
ship about their experiences
with the WAE process, and
especially suggestions for its
Most responses concern
the current system’s lack
of clarity regarding pos-
sible opportunities and
confusion as to how to get
on a bureau’s WAE registry.
Annuitants who have com-
municated with AFSA gener-
ally appear to favor a less
fragmented approach than
the current system.
Last August, the depart-
ment’s Human Resources
Service Center in Charleston
launched a WAE central reg-
istry. Annuitants interested
in possible WAE assignments
may provide HRSC with con-
tact information. The sign-up
process takes a phone call
and a few minutes of time.
What the process does
include is a searchable,
keyword-driven resumé or
profile system like those
used in the HR divisions of
corporations, multilateral
institutions and nongov-
ernmental organizations
Nor are bureaus under
any obligation to utilize the
HRSC list. As far as we can
ascertain, the system does
not create any efficiencies
or reduce costs. Nor does
the process do a better job
of informing annuitants of
bureau needs.
For all these reasons,
as presently designed, the
central registry does not yet
function as hoped.
AFSA believes the WAE
registry/hiring process ought
to accomplish specific goals.
For bureaus, it should ease
the process of bringing on
board the best available
personnel from the wid-
est population of potential
WAE candidates in a timely
fashion, while minimizing
operational costs.
For WAE annuitants, it
should inform, provide flex-
ibility and be as transparent
and fair as possible.
To achieve these goals,
AFSA recommends that
HR introduce an electroni-
cally searchable, Internet-
accessible CV and/or EP+
(Employee Profile Plus)
database; maintain a list of
available positions, including
deadlines; and designate a
senior officer to manage liai-
son with bureaus and annui-
tants. HR could also take on
routine paperwork normally
done by the bureaus.
To take on new responsi-
bilities, including an upgrade
of its IT capabilities, HR may
require additional resources.
As it moves toward “shared
services” and an improved
central registry, other bureaus
should utilize it, as well.
We appreciate that
bureaus may still identify and
approve candidates for posi-
tions through a process no
different than that used for
active-duty assignments. But
in the interest of ration-
alization, WAE appointment
authority and paperwork pro-
cessing, even payroll, could
become an HR function.
The department may also
wish to consider central-
izing the clearance process
and modifying cap rules
that frustrate both bureaus
and annuitants. In addition,
we encourage other foreign
affairs agencies to introduce
WAE-type programs.
AFSA recommends that
annuitants continue time-
honored networking with
bureau coordinators, utilize
RNet services, contact the
HR Service Center to show
interest in a centralized regis-
try, and keep their skills sharp
and resumés current.
How Is “When Actually Employed”Working?
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP.
or (703) 437-7881
retirement age. The earn-
ings test is similar to the one
applied to Social Security
benefits and uses the same
annual exempt amount, as
required by 5 U.S.C. Section
8421a. The current exemp-
tion amount for 2014 is
$15,480 of earned income.
Your annuity supplement
will be reduced by $1 for
every $2 by which your cal-
endar year earnings exceed
the exemption amount. The
reduction, termination or
reinstatement of benefits will
become effective on Jan. 1 of
the year following the year of
income reported.
At the end of each cal-
endar year, the department
asks FSPS annuitants who
have reached their minimum
retirement age to submit an
FSPS Annuity Supplement
Report (DS-5026). To show
continuing eligibility for the
annuity supplement, annui-
tants declare their earned
income for that year.
The department then
determines whether the
annuity supplement should
be reduced or terminated.
To assure noninterrupted
annuity supplement pay-
ments, it is important that
the DS-5026 be submitted
promptly in January.
The department attempts
to assure that no overpay-
ment is included in the
February annuity payment.
However, if an annuitant
receives excess funds before
a reduction or termination
goes into effect the follow-
ing year, the department will
ask for repayment of this
This information, along
with a detailed guide to
determining your earned
income, can also be found
on the AFSA website on the
Retiree Services page, and
in the resource pages of the
Retiree Directory
–Matt Sumrak, Associate
Retiree Coordinator
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