Call it a comeback for 2000 crackerjack

Kathryn “Kitty” Guion took an early retirement from her federal
job in 1995. Now she is back at full salary, helping her former colleagues meet their year
2000 project deadline.

Guion downplayed her new role, which is to manage the entire mainframe code validation
effort at the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center in New Orleans.

“I don’t really do the work; I just organize the effort,” she said.

Beginning in April, the Office of Personnel Management told agencies they could rehire
recently retired employees at full pay on a temporary, full-time basis if it proved
difficult finding people to do date code work.

Since then, 11 executive departments, including Agriculture, have requested and
received waivers to rehire retired employees, according to OPM.

Guion, a retired GS-14, had been chief of the Database Management Branch in NFC’s
IRM Division.

Ed McManus, her former boss, called her in April with an offer to work full-time at
full salary under the waiver program.

“It’s a nice challenge,” Guion said.

Knowing that it is a short-term assignment helps her husband, also retired, accept her
return to work, she said.

The financial compensation also was attractive because she and her husband enjoy

“What I’m working for is a newer motor home,” she said, to replace one
that is 20 years old.

“This looked like an opportunity to get a newer one that my husband won’t
have to crawl under as much to maintain,” Guion said.

Guion and McManus discussed her coming back as a contractor, but Guion preferred the
arrangement they agreed upon. “It’s more economical for the government,”
she said.

Guion had already been returning to work at NFC for a few months every year, but at a
reduced salary.

She said she had been unprepared financially for early retirement, so the extra income
was helpful.

She said she enjoys being back with the staff with whom she has worked since 1972.
“I know virtually everyone I’m dealing with other than some of the folks that
came in recently,” she said.

NFC director John Ortego has been a morale booster, Guion said. He calls managers in
for frequent impromptu meetings “just to reinforce what the goals are and how
important the project is to him,” she said.

Because the United States relies on equipment and vehicle parts from overseas
manufacturers, Guion said she is especially concerned “whether manufacturers in other
parts of the world will be 2000-compliant in time.”

She said she feels “a little sorry for some of the folks that are just realizing
the level of effort required” to be prepared for the year 2000.  

“One bit of information GCN may already be aware of from discussions with Mac [Ed
McManus], but which I am quite impressed with, is that all documentation supporting the
National Finance Center’s code validation phase is being kept on CD-ROM. One of
NFC’s goals in the validation phase was to make certain we could pass an audit.

—Kathryn “Kitty” Guion

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