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The Future of the Federal Workforce: WAEPA 2021 AMM Takeaways

Federal Civilian Life
3 min Category: Federal Civilian Life

This year’s Federal Summit and Annual Member Meeting had a roster of distinguished speakers discussing returning to the office and the future of the Federal workforce. WAEPA CEO M. Shane Canfield hosted a plenary session on leadership followed by a panel of federal benefits experts. Here are some key takeaways from this year’s event.

Shane kicked off the event with his annual State of the Association before welcoming our plenary speaker, Vice Admiral Cutler Dawson (Ret.), Past President/CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union. Thanks in large part to his leadership, Navy Federal’s assets quadrupled to over $100 billion as it solidified itself as the world’s largest credit union. Prior to joining Navy Federal, Cutler served over 34 years in the U.S. Navy. His recently published book, “From the Sea to the C-Suite”, discusses the leadership lessons he learned during his career and offers advice to help Civilian Feds advance in the careers, this includes:

Important Skills for Building a Successful and Fulfilling Career

Become a subject matter expert in your position and always strive to learn more. Communication is key, because you won’t be successful without getting others to understand your point of view. Always have your “elevator speech” ready, because you never know when opportunity will knock.

Advice for Someone Who Feels Stuck in their Position

Be the best at what you are, no matter where you are, but keep an eye out for new and interesting opportunities. Don’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone. Focus on the skills you do have, not the ones you don’t. When you become a lifelong learner, there’s always room to grow. Remember your “elevator speech” and be ready to deliver when called upon.

Federal Benefits Panel

The event continued with our panel of federal benefits experts. Government Executive Staff Correspondent Courtney Bublé and Federal Benefits Experts Chris Kowalik and Tammy Flanagan discussed the past, present, and future of the federal workforce. They provided insight on this year’s Open Season, discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on retirement, and offered advice on what to expect in 2022.


As baby boomers are looking to transition out of federal service, there is a buzz around a “great retirement shift.” Studies show that between now and 2025, one third of the federal workforce will be eligible for retirement while only six percent of Civilian Feds are below 30. Agencies are becoming concerned that they may not have enough trained and qualified employees to fill these open roles. The Federal government is looking at flexible work hours and telework policies to attract the next generation of employees while expanding its equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

Open Season

COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way that Civilian Feds approach Open season. On one hand, people are taking their health more seriously and investing in quality health insurance plans. On the other, some have changed their FEHB plan to save money – especially if they had a spouse out of work or and were facing financial hardships.

For those in the five-year window close to retirement, many are asking, “If I switch up my plan during open season, does the five-year window start over?” The answer is no! Even during retirement, Civilian Feds can switch to different plans. Those under the FEHB umbrella within those five years are good to go. For more information on navigating open season, check out the 2022 FEDweek FEHB Guide.

Thank you to all those that attended the 2021 WAEPA Federal Summit and 5th Annual Member Meeting. We hope to see you live in-person for next year’s event.

To see our Plenary and Panel sessions on–demand, visit our YouTube channel.

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