Law Enforcement Group Says OPM Policy is Harming Federal Law Enforcement

This week, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), sent a strongly-worded letter to Margaret Weichert, acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The group is protesting a policy change made by OPM that it says the agency made “with little to no regard for the financial harm it has inflicted on retirees.”

At issue is an OPM decision made in summer 2016, when OPM decided that a federal law enforcement retiree’s “FERS retirement annuity supplement (RAS) was divisible between a retiree and his or her former spouse regardless of whether the RAS was specifically cited in the terms of the divorce decree.” The annuity supplement is a benefit offered to federal law enforcement in part to compensate for mandatory retirement ages not impacting other categories of employees.

"It has created individual retiree debts due to the federal government of as much as $28,389.96 (that we are aware of)—debts for which OPM has sought repayment in the form of prospective and retrospective assessments from annuitants’ retirement benefits,” said FLEOA National President Nathan R. Catura in a statement released yesterday to accompany the letter to Weichert.

FLEOA counts more than 27,000 law enforcement officers and agents from 65 federal agencies among its members. And the organization says it is not alone in opposing OPM’s actions, which it says “remained a closely-held secret.” Indeed, according to Catura, “it is not clear that OPM has made publicly available any guidance or instructions to even current employees planning for retirement that their benefits are subject to reduction under this revised policy.”

"Both the OPM-OIG and the MSPB have found that OPM’s actions constituted a reinterpretation of current law that was outside of the agency’s authority and was done absent a specific grant of authority from Congress or through a notice-and-comment rulemaking process,”  Catura says. “This is a view shared not just by our organization, but by the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee.”

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