TSP sets milestones in assets and members


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  • The Thrift Savings Plan ended 2020 with record assets of $710 billion and 6.2 million participants. This is the first time that the TSP has crossed the $700 billion threshold. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board attributes this milestone to a growing number of uniformed service members joining the plan for the first time. Hardship withdrawals and loans decreased by 18% in 2020 compared to the previous year. The TSP says many participants used flexibilities through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to take out loans instead.
  • President Biden repealed his predecessor’s 2018 executive orders. But federal unions are on hold waiting for agencies to review old contracts or return to the bargaining table. The American Federation of Government Employees said no agency has said they are ready to start this work yet. The union hopes the Office of Personnel Management will issue guidelines asking agencies to resume negotiations with their unions. (Federal News Network)
  • Two House Democrats are urging the president’s attorney general’s pick to restore collective bargaining rights to Justice Department immigration judges. The Federal Labor Relations Authority agreed last fall to decertify the union representing DoJ immigration judges. The decision overturned 20 years of FLRA precedent. Now House Democrats are asking Merrick Garland to revisit the issue when he is confirmed as attorney general. the request comes from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) and Government Operations Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
  • Agencies suspended more contractors in fiscal 2019 than at any time in the previous four years. New data from the Interagency Suspension and Exclusion Committee shows officials took action against 722 contractors, up from 480 in 2018. The committee released its annual report to Congress last week with data from 2019. The committee said the number of contractors proposed for exclusion or those who were excluded has fallen in previous years. Additionally, agencies continue to use “pre-notice” letters, 139 in 2019, to alert providers that there are issues that need to be resolved before taking suspension and exclusion action.
  • A new review of Office of Government Accountability raises serious questions about the process the Pentagon uses to reimburse service members for their housing costs. These housing allowances are supposed to be based on surveys of market rental rates. But the GAO said contractors hired by the DoD to conduct this research had not collected enough data to establish accurate rates. The review found that nearly half of the housing deals examined by contractors were based on samples too small to give an accurate picture of true rental costs.
  • Makeup, nail polish and highlights have become part of the look of a modern soldier. The military is drastically changing its grooming standards next month to ease the burden on soldiers. The compulsory tight chignons caused hair loss, scars and migraines in some female soldiers. In response, the military will allow women to wear ponytails. Also, women will be able to wear nail polish as long as it is a professional color. Men can also wear clear nail polish to protect their nails from chemicals. Other changes include allowing nursing women to wear undershirts and allowing women to wear earrings in non-combat situations. (Federal News Network)
  • Max Rose will be the COVID-19 Czar for the Pentagon. He will serve in the newly created post of Special Assistant Secretary of Defense, Senior Advisor for COVID. Rose is a former New York Rep and is also a veteran. He will work closely with newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the COVID-19 response and coordination between federal and state agencies.
  • The Department of Defense Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program is temporarily suspending new pilots. Ten Defense Components are piloting programs to test how CMMC can operate in conjunction with contracting. The program requires contractors to have certain specified cybersecurity controls in place in order to be eligible for rewards. CMMC program manager Katie Arrington said eight more pilots are ready to launch. “We felt out of respect for the new administration and the new undersecretary, that we would leave it to them for approval when they came in and assumed their duties here in the department.” Otherwise, Arrington said the program is going full speed ahead.
  • Top Democrats from four House committees asked the Government Accountability Office for an update on the energy efficiency of federal buildings. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires agencies to conduct in-depth water and energy assessments…but Energy Department data shows only 21% have done so. The data also shows that government-wide building energy intensity reductions have stagnated over the past four years. Legislators asked GAO to identify obstacles for agencies to conduct these assessments and to identify resources that agencies have committed to respect.
  • The Senate confirms the choice of President Joe Biden to lead the State Department. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sees this as an opportunity to revitalize the agency’s workforce. He previously served as the agency’s deputy secretary and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that he would increase hiring to recover from the Trump administration’s hiring freeze. He said he would also make hiring a diversity director a top priority. “I will consider this a meaningful measure of my success or failure…if we finally have the real foundations in place to ensure that we have a workforce at the State Department that resembles the country it is. represented.”
  • The Senate committee has advanced the choice of the president to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee debated how to handle the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas. Republican Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said, “As of April 2019, no one has been confirmed there. And morale is bad. And the leadership vacuum is real. So I think it’s very important that we have someone in place who is accountable. The committee advanced the nomination of Mayorkas with a vote of seven to four.
  • The Biden administration moved quickly but quietly to appoint a new federal information security chief. Chris DeRusha started Monday as a federal CISO without press releases or other fanfare. He posted his new title on his LinkedIn page. After the news broke, current and former federal cyber leaders hailed the administration’s decision. Former federal CISO Grant Schneider said DeRusha is smart, capable and trusted by the administration. Joe Stuntz, former head of cybersecurity at OMB, said he would face a host of challenges, including supply chain risk and agencies moving from a network-based approach to a identity and data-centric security approach. (Federal News Network)

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