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Reemployment of Annuitants by the Immigration and Naturalization Service

Report No. 03-16
February 2003
Office of the Inspector General


By letter dated September 5, 2002, the Chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims asked the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to review the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) hiring of annuitants who received dual compensation waivers. In the letter, the Chairmen noted that:

    OPM has allowed the Justice Department to approve waiver requests on a case?by?case basis for annuitants in positions required "[t]o adjudicate naturalization and adjustment of status applications . . . in offices with processing times averaging more than 6 months during periods when that office either offers other adjudicators overtime or has used overtime to the maximum extent possible and has vacant positions due to the lack of available candidates," as well as to train Border Patrol Agents and their supervisors . . . .

But the Chairmen also cited a concern that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) raised in renewing the authority for FY 2000. The OPM Director stated that the INS's staffing emergency appeared to have become a continuing staffing problem and that the INS needed to develop long-range strategies to resolve the staffing issues to avoid relying on the waiver authority. As a result of these concerns, the Chairmen requested that the OIG review:

    the INS's reemployment of annuitants for whom dual compensation reductions have been waived, to assess whether that authority has been used appropriately and to evaluate whether the INS has developed long-term strategies to fill its officer training and adjudication functions without relying on this authority.

Accordingly, the objectives of our audit were to: (1) identify the annuitants the INS rehired and the compensation awarded, (2) assess whether the INS approved waivers of dual compensation reductions appropriately, and (3) determine whether the INS developed and implemented long term hiring and training strategies that would reduce the need to rehire annuitants.


According to 5 U.S.C. § 8344 (regarding the Civil Service Retirement System) and 5 U.S.C. § 8468 (regarding the Federal Employees Retirement System), a rehired annuitant shall have an amount equal to the annuity allocable to the period of actual employment deducted from his pay. However, pursuant to 5 CFR 553.201, the OPM Director may, at the request of the head of an Executive agency, waive the application of the deduction requirements on a case by case basis for employees in positions for which there is exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining a qualified employee. Under 5 CFR 553.202 the Director may do the same for an employee serving on a temporary basis, but only if, and for so long as, the authority is necessary due to an emergency involving a direct threat to life or property or other unusual circumstances. The OPM may delegate this authority to the head of an Executive agency.5

By letter dated December 5, 1995, the INS requested assistance from the Justice Management Division (JMD) to acquire from the OPM a delegation of authority to grant waivers of annuity offsets in individual cases. The INS request came in response to its anticipated hiring of 5,000 additional officer corps employees in FY 1996. According to the letter:

    Temporary re-hiring recently retired INS employees in support roles would immediately provide a cadre or well trained employees who clearly understand the mission and function of the INS to support mission requirements and training. These employees' experience in the INS would be invaluable since most of them already speak and read Spanish, understand Hispanic culture, and could quickly become current in immigration and nationality law.

The OPM granted the INS's request by letter dated February 22, 1996, vesting the delegated authority with the INS Assistant Commissioner for Human Resources and Development. The OPM stipulated that the INS not exceed 500 reemployed annuitants during the term of the authority and that appointments made under the authority had to be in the areas of:

  • training;
  • interviewing and processing new Border Patrol Agents;
  • replacing or supplementing field positions as -
    • Border Patrol Agents
    • Immigration Inspectors, Investigators, and Instructors
    • Adjudications Officers
    • Other administrative support personnel.

According to the delegation granted by the OPM, the INS had to review and approve each waiver individually. The OPM further specified that the INS reassign employees replaced by rehired annuitants to process and train new recruits.

By letter dated August 11, 1998, the OPM granted an extension of the waiver authority through September 30, 2000, again vesting the delegated authority with the INS Assistant Commissioner for Human Resources and Development. However, the extended delegation of authority was reduced from a maximum of 500 reemployed annuitants to a maximum of 200 reemployed annuitants during the revised term of the authority.

By letter dated September 12, 2000, the OPM advised the Assistant Attorney General for Administration that it extended the delegated authority through September 30, 2002. The OPM stated that the Attorney General may redelegate the authority to the Assistant Attorney General for Administration or other senior official in JMD. By so doing, the OPM took the authority to approve waivers away from the INS Assistant Commissioner for Human Resources and Development and vested it with JMD. The JMD then assumed review and approval authority for the INS's requests for waiver authority. The OPM letter also noted that:

    INS's staffing emergency, which began in 1995, appears to have become a continuing staffing problem. Please ask INS to look carefully at their workforce needs for FY 2003 through FY 2007 and to develop long-term strategies for their officer training and adjudication functions without continued reliance on this delegated authority. We ask that you review their plans prior to approving waivers for annuitants during FY 2002.

The OPM suggested that the INS formulate plans to include alternatives to reemploying annuitants, such as, ". . . details, internal staffing actions, training agreements, recruiting bonuses, retention allowances, incentive awards, contracting, etc."

On April 1, 2002, the OPM again extended the waiver authority, this time to September 30, 2004. The OPM letter provided that the Department could redelegate limited approval authority to an INS Headquarters official. However, in an e-mail dated August 13, 2002, between an official of the OPM and an official of the Department of Justice (Department), the redelegation provision was revised to provide for redelegation authority only to JMD not the INS. Therefore, at the time of our review, JMD had to review and approve all requests for waivers of dual compensation from the INS.


  1. The OPM delegated such authority to the Social Security Administration, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Agriculture.

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