Number of TSP millionaires continues to drop

In today's Federal Newscast: The world continues to have fewer TSP millionaires. AFGE continues to grow. And VA health care embraces toxic exposure screenings.

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  • The number continues to dwindle for Thrift Savings Plan participants, whose accounts total over a million dollars. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board reports that there are now roughly 65,000 TSP millionaires. That’s a 9.3% decrease since last quarter, and a 36% decline since last year. Overall, TSP millionaires now make up just shy of 1% of all TSP accounts. That’s compared with about 1.7% last fiscal quarter, and 3% last year.
  • Starting today, veterans enrolled in VA health care can receive a toxic-exposure screening. The Department of Veterans Affairs said the screenings take 5 to 10 minutes and will be followed up every five years. Earlier this year, VA ran a pilot program, screening over 13,000 veterans, and found that more than a third of them were concerned about toxic exposure. These screenings are a result of the passage of the PACT Act, which was signed into law in August, and is designed to help veterans exposed to toxic substances, such as Agent Orange or those found in burn pits.
  • Federal employees just broke a years-old record for federal union membership. The American Federation of Government Employees said last month it added the most new members of any October in the last five years. It was also AFGE’s largest net growth during October since 2015, gaining 677 overall members, after accounting for those who left the union or retired.
  • The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency can move forward with a pair of major contracts after a protest was shot down. Paragon Investigations had argued DCSA unfairly excluded its proposal from the competition for two $1.5-billion background investigations services contracts. But the Government Accountability Office denied Paragon’s arguments that DCSA unfairly evaluated its proposal. CACI Federal and Peraton Risk Decision are the other two incumbent contractors for DCSA’s background investigations work.
  • GAO offers some new ideas for how the Transportation Security Administration should address potential discrimination at airport security checkpoints. TSA doesn’t collect data on passengers who are referred for extra screening, making it hard for the agency and others to determine whether it’s complying with non-discrimination policies, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. TSA has faced allegations of discrimination. GAO found TSA has taken some actions to prevent discrimination, like additional training and monitoring of officers. But in addition to collecting more data, GAO said the agency could do a better job informing the public about the complaint process for alleging discrimination. The Department of Homeland Security agreed with GAO’s recommendations.
  • The first cohort of students in the Air Force and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Accelerator are beginning their education journey. The Air Force said 200 participants will go through a series of training sessions to better understand how to use AI on the battlefield and in business areas. The airmen and guardians of various rank and responsibility levels — from senior leaders to developers and acquisition workers to operators — will learn how to directly use AI-enabled capabilities. The Air Force received more than 1,400 applications for this first AI Accelerator pilot program.
  • The Interior Department’s mega-cloud contract is on the street. The department is setting up a contract to give its bureaus more control of how and when they use cloud services. The Cloud Hosting Solutions III contract aims to create a cloud broker service to manage a portfolio of cloud computing, storage and application services across multiple vendors. The new solicitation said the broker will provide Interior with the ability to procure third-party services from vendors on a rental or “pay as you go” model to enhance or complement the CSP environment associated with the award. Proposals for this single-award task-order contract with a  $1 billion ceiling are due by December 19.
  • The Office of Personnel Management is making some progress on its retirement claims backlog. OPM received almost 6,500 retirement claims in October, but processed almost 7,900. That brings the retirement claims backlog down to a little over 25,000. That’s still well above OPM’s “steady state” inventory of 13,000 claims. In fiscal 2022, OPM processed almost 115,000 retirement claims, the second highest amount in 22 years. (OPM makes progress on backlog during October lull in retirement claims – Federal News Network)
  • The microelectronics industry will get a push forward from a new program developed by the Department of Defense. The DoD will launch Microelectronics Commons in an effort to close the gap between foreign and domestic microelectronics production. The initiative is designed to develop public-private partnerships, start regional technology hubs, and boost development of companies and infrastructure. According to a DoD statement about the program, the U.S. only produces about 12% of microelectronics worldwide. Microelectronics Commons, funded by the CHIPS Act, is designed to help boost U.S. market share.
  • The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs wants ideas on how it can open the federal rulemaking process to more public input, especially from underserved communities. OIRA is planning a live virtual meeting on November 17 to get public input; it’s also accepting email submissions. The Biden Administration said the input will help inform the White House’s forthcoming Open Government National Action Plan.
  • Federal agencies have now spent more than $2 billion to help Florida recover from Hurricane Ian. Most of the money has been distributed via FEMA, including more than $700 million to individuals and more than $300 million to the state government. The Small Business Administration, meanwhile, has issued more than $600 million in disaster loans, and the National Flood Insurance Program has paid $350 million in claims so far. (US: Federal aid to Florida for Hurricane Ian tops $2B – Federal News Network)

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