Thrift Savings Plan board prepares for government shutdown

Thrift Savings Plan operations continue normally during a shutdown, but the TSP offers some relief to participants who are affected.

  • The Thrift Savings Plan board said it is ready to pivot in the case of a government shutdown this Friday. TSP operations continue normally during a shutdown, but the TSP offers some relief to participants who are affected. During a shutdown, if TSP participants miss a loan payment, they do not get placed in a default loan status. And for any fed who gets furloughed during a shutdown, the TSP automatically pauses paycheck deductions for loans. If there is a shutdown, about 100,000 federal employees could be furloughed. Congress, of course, still has a couple days to come to a government-spending agreement.
    (February board meeting - Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board)
  • A plan to roll back civil service protections would impact more federal employees than expected, according to the National Treasury Employees Union. The Trump administration planned to reclassify a large swath of federal employees who shape government policy, making them easier to fire. Former President Donald Trump said he’d bring those plans back if reelected. But new documents show the Office of Management and Budget also planned to reclassify lower-grade feds in HR, IT and other administrative positions. The NTEU, which obtained the documents, said more federal employees would fall under Schedule F than it previously estimated.
  • Federal agencies have a role to play in a new effort to make sure the sensitive data of Americans is protected from foreign adversaries. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order today designed to safeguard sensitive U.S. data, like biometrics, personal health data and geolocation information. The Justice Department will issue regulations aimed at establishing clear protections for that data from being accessed by so-called countries of concern. And the departments of Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs will be tasked with ensuring that federal grants, contracts and awards are not used to facilitate access to Americans’ sensitive data.
  • After getting direct-hire authority, agencies have even more help for AI hiring from the Office of Personnel Management. OPM’s latest guidance to agencies details how and when they can offer incentives to federal employees working in AI. In many cases, agencies already have the authority to give feds pay bonuses, telework opportunities and faster accrual of annual leave. Now OPM said those flexibilities, along with many others, should be extended to AI professionals. The guidance comes after President Biden signed an executive order telling agencies to start rapidly recruiting AI professionals to the federal workforce.
  • The Army is cutting about 24,000 military positions, including about 3,000 positions from special operations forces, as it restructures itself for large scale combat operations. The service plans to get rid of positions that were created to support counterinsurgency efforts during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but are no longer needed given current strategic priorities. The cuts will not affect active-duty soldiers.
  • The Office of Personel Management and Office of Management and Budget have released a strategic plan to assist agencies with hiring and recruiting military-connected families. OPM has released the first-ever governmentwide military-connected strategic plan for fiscal 2024 to 2028. The plan will support agencies in recruiting, hiring and retaining military-connected families and caregivers. Agencies should identify barriers that prevent recruitment, hiring and retention of military-connected families within the federal workforce. Agencies are also encouraged to develop strategies and potential legislative proposals to address those barriers and promote employment opportunities. OPM will provide resources to support agencies in meeting the goals outlined in the plan.
  • The Office of the Special Counsel has a new leader. The Senate yesterday confirmed Hampton Dellinger to be Special Counsel by a vote of 49 to 46. President Joe Biden nominated Dellinger in October. OSC has been without a leader since October, when Henry Kerner left after serving in the position for six years. Before coming to OSC, Dellinger served in the Justice Department as an assistant attorney general overseeing the Office of Legal Policy from October 2021 to June 2023.
    (Senate confirms OSC leader - U.S. Senate Majority Floor Updates on X)
  • Big changes are coming to how the Defense Department measures its own cyber defenses. Instead of getting pass-fail inspections, commands can expect to see more nuanced assessments that try to measure how cyber risks affect their actual missions. The new process takes effect tomorrow and is called a Cyber Operational Readiness Assessment. It replaces the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection DoD has used for more than a decade.
  • The Biden administration has established a council of chief AI officers across the federal government. Austin Bonner, the deputy U.S. chief technology officer for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said that it is one of the latest steps under a recent executive order on AI in government. “This is a really important place for federal leaders to come together, share best practices, and coordinate their work. Not every federal agency needs to reinvent the wheel," Bonner said. The Office of Management and Budget directed agencies to name a chief AI officer last fall and accelerate the adoption of AI tools within agencies.
  • The Energy Department is doling out $45 million for 16 new cybersecurity projects. The goal is to develop tools and technologies that can protect energy systems from cyber attacks. The Biden administration has warned U.S. critical infrastructure, including the electric grid, is increasingly being targeted by hackers. The funding for the energy cybersecurity projects comes from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

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