New tool to help service members make major retirement decision

  • There’s a major overhaul of the military retirement system on the horizon.  In a few months, the Department of Defense is expected to launch a new tool to help service members decide whether or not to leave their service. The Blended Retirement System – approved by Congress two years ago – would mix a traditional military pension with a new government contribution to a service member’s Thrift Savings Plan account.  When rolled-out, 1.7 million uniformed personnel will have to decide whether to stay in the old system or move to the new one. DoD says it takes no position either way, but the new retirement calculator it launched Tuesday is the only one officials endorse to help troops make their own decision. It’s designed to be used in conjunction with a mandatory financial planning course the department launched in January. (Air Force)
  • President Trump has announced his intent to nominate Ryan McCarthy to become  Under Secretary of the Army. McCarthy, a former Army Ranger, was a vice president at Lockheed Martin and also served as a Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Trump has also nominated Dr. Francis Collins to continue leading the National Institutes of Health, a position he’s held since 2009. (The White House)
  • The Trump administration has filled a second politically-appointed chief information officer position. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has confirmed to Federal News Radio that Rajive Mathur has been appointed the SSA’s new deputy commissioner for systems and CIO. Mathur is expected to join the agency later this month, a SSA spokeswoman said in an email. Mathur replaces Rob Klopp, who left in mid-April. Mathur spent the last six years as the director of online services at the IRS. (Federal News Radio)
  • The director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has resigned. Michelle Lee, the first woman to lead the agency, is leaving  after more than three years in the position. Some inventors and patent licensing companies had opposed Lee, but she was viewed favorably by the technology industry for ushering in more stringent standards for software patents.The Trump administration has yet to put forth a nominee for the position, which requires Senate confirmation. (Department of Commerce)
  • Former Army Secretary Eric Fanning told Federal News Radio there is no political appetite for a military buildup in Congress. President Donald Trump ran on a promise to build up the military. But Fanning said there is too much dissent between and within parties to give the military a significant monetary increase. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate has easily passed the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act by a voice vote. It now heads to the House. Leadership on the House Veterans Affairs Committee urged House leadership to quickly schedule the bill for a vote. It appeared the legislation would be on the President’s desk by the end of the month. The bill would eliminate the Merit Systems Protection Board as an option for senior executives to appeal disciplinary actions. (Senate Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has not let up in his effort to find out if there’s a conflict of interest between President Trump and the Old Post Office pavilion. In a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA), Carper criticized the department for failing to provide complete answers about the lease between the hotel and the federal government. This the fifth time in as many months that Carper has written to GSA. In March, the GSA’s new Trump-appointed leadership declared the hotel in “full compliance” with the lease.(Sen. Tom Carper)
  • At least one top Trump Cabinet official has bucked administration policy when it comes to oversight requests from Congress. Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly said he’ll respond to all congressional inquires, regardless of who the sender is. He said he’s made changes in the department to respond more often and more quickly to Congress, and to make DHS witnesses more available on Capitol Hill. Democratic lawmakers were worried agencies were being told to only respond to inquires from committee chairmen.
  • The latest theft of federal classified documents by a contractor has underscored the need for an insider threat program at every agency. It was the Edward Snowden affair that gave rise to the presidentially-created National Insider Threat Task Force. Co-director Wayne Belk said some of its best practices apply to any agency. He said key to detecting is knowing baseline conduct and setting tools to alert you to exceptions, and key to deterring is making sure people know you have an insider threat program. (Federal News Radio)

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