How valuable do Thrift Savings Plan participants find the mutual fund window? A new Federal News Network poll gives us a clue. 80% of poll respondents on social media said it was “not very important” to them for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to keep the mutual fund window open. And about 84% of poll respondents said they don’t think the TSP mutual fund window is all that valuable. But other organizations, such as the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), say the mutual fund window is important to maintain diverse investment options in the TSP. The window offers about 5,000 mutual fund options, but so far, just about 3,600 of the 6.8 million TSP participants have enrolled in it, since it launched last June.
The Department of Homeland Security is developing clarifying guidance for how its law enforcement components should report use-of-force data. That’s after the Government Accountability Office found the data submitted to DHS so far is undercounting the frequency that officers used force against subjects. Components in some cases submitted data to DHS that counted multiple reportable uses of force as a single “incident.” DHS also told GAO that it will come up with a plan for analyzing use-of-force data to inform future policy decisions.
Agency officials last week signed off on the final approval to create the "DHS CX Directorate," a new customer experience shop at the Department of Homeland Security. The directorate will synthesize and manage work across DHS's many components, aiming to improve interactions with the public. Though efforts to improve customer experience are not unique to DHS, the department does interact more with the public on a daily basis than any other federal department. DHS’s four high-impact service providers are U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration.
(CX Directorate - Department of Homeland Security email to Federal News Network)
Effectively immediately, the IRS ends a decades old policy of unannounced visits. In announcing revenue officers will no longer conduct unannounced visits to businesses or citizens, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel says this policy change comes directly from employees and other stakeholders. "With the growth in scam artists, taxpayers are increasingly uncertain who was knocking on their doors. For our IRS employees, there were fears about their own personal safety on these visits." Instead, Werfel says revenue officers will send letters through the Postal Service and communicate through the IRS's own secure portal when trying to collect tax debts.
Military spouses called on Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to end his block on Senate confirmed military appointments Monday. The Secure Families Initiative sent a petition to Tuberville and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday to push them to confirm hundreds of military nominations. Over 500 active duty military spouses signed the petition. The groups says Tuberville’s hold on nominations is disrupting the lives of service members and their families. Tuberville is protesting Pentagon’s policy allowing for reimbursement of expenses for service members who have to travel for reproductive care.
The nominee to lead U.S. Cyber Command is looking forward to some important new authorities. Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh says if he’s confirmed to lead CYBERCOM, the biggest change he’s looking forward to is not a new cyber weapon or operation - it’s new budgeting powers. Starting with fiscal 2024 appropriations, CYBERCOM will have control over the budgeting, planning and programming for the Cyber National Mission Force. That’s a big change from how the military services have largely controlled how cyber forces are funded and trained. But first, Congress will need to pass a defense appropriations bill.
The Defense Department will expand its in-home childcare program. The initiative, first operated as a pilot, offers fee assistance to full-time, in-home child care providers for military families. It expanded from 5 to 11 locations and now includes permanent residents and family members as possible in-home providers. The program covers full-time care for 30 to 60-hours of child care weekly. The new expansion aims to fill the gap in housing areas with the highest demand and longest waitlists for DOD-facilitated child care.
Eight airlines will be offering federal travelers an estimated 53 percent discount on commercial fares starting October first as part of the General Services Administration’s City Pair Program. The program makes it easier for federal employees to book flights when traveling for official business, allowing them to spend less time and money organizing travel. GSA uses the scale of federal employee travelers to negotiate lower fares on flights between some cities. The City Pair Program has saved taxpayers, on average, 1.76 billion a year in the past five years. This year, the program is estimated to save taxpayers $2.4 billion. GSA’s City Pair Program began in 1980.
High-profile Virginian politicians reach across the aisle to argue for the new FBI headquarters to come to Springfield, Virginia. Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and several representatives from both parties made the case in a letter on Friday. They sent the letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Robin Carnahan, administrator of the General Services Administration. The letter highlights Springfield's proximity to other federal law enforcement agencies, transportation access, cost benefits and ability to advance equity and sustainability.
Senate lawmakers join the call to increase the oversight of IT projects at the Veterans Affairs Department. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), the chairman and ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced a companion bill to the House calling for VA to establish an oversight board to review major acquisitions early in the agency's decision making process and if a contract is not in compliance. The Acquisition Review Board and Cost Assessment Act is similar to the House's Acquisition Review Board Act, introduced a month ago. The senators say the oversight board is needed to help stem the tide of poorly performing VA programs like the electronic health records modernization effort.