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If the proposed budget deal becomes law, new federal workers will see a total of 10.6 percent of their salaries automatically withheld from their paychecks to cover their retirement benefits. That could lead to them contributing less or not at all to their voluntary Thrift Savings Plan accounts, experts said.
During the 16-day government shutdown last month, more than 14,000 Thrift Savings Plan participants withdrew money from their accounts, the highest number of hardship withdrawals in a single month ever. This may have helped participants weather the financial uncertainty of the shutdown. But, under TSP rules, it also means they'll be unable to contribute to their 401(k)-style retirement accounts for the next six months. Now, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the TSP, is concerned that not all those participants will take the initiative to restart their contributions when the penalty period expires next spring.
Hardship withdrawals shot up in the first few weeks of October and thousands more employees opted to shift their investments out of higher-risk areas and into the G Fund, TSP officials said at at the board's monthly meeting Monday. During the shutdown, some 8,200 participants requested hardship withdrawals, compared to 5,500 during the same period of time last year.
Members of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board approved a nearly 18 percent increase in the agency's budget for the coming fiscal year that will help lay the groundwork for a wholesale overhaul of the TSP participant experience, board officials say. The single, new initiative included in the 2014 budget is the first in a series of steps built around redesigning the entire participant experience, the board's executive director, Greg Long told board members.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is setting the stage for a major new multiyear initiative to study the needs of Thrift Savings Plan participants and improve its services. The first step in the process will be determining benchmarks for how the board currently operates and communicates with participants, said Kim Weaver, the board's director of external affairs.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says offering federal employees an extra loan option through their Thrift Savings Plans to cushion the impact of furloughs would require too much effort to implement and may not help the employees all that much. Several federal-employee unions have lobbied the board to add a second general purpose loan option to help cushion the blow of furloughs. But at a Employee Thrift Advisory Council meeting April 22, the board quashed the idea, citing the complexity surrounding the changes.
While auto enrollment for new hires has increased participation in the Thrift Savings Plan over the last few years, a recent report suggests many of them are staying in the super-safe G Fund — instead of reallocating money into other funds.
On the Federal Drive show blog, you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.
The contract includes "very stringent" IT security requirements. The announcement follows a data breach that affected 123,000 TSP participants in 2011.
Portions of last week's interview with TSP Executive Director Greg Long about the TSP hack attack will be re-aired this week. Also, Steve Watkins and Sean Reilly from the Federal Times join host Mike Causey to talk about the status of legislation pending in Congress that affects federal workers. June 20, 2012
For people worried about their TSP accounts being hacked, no news is good news. If you didn't get a letter, it means you are one of the 97 percent whose data is safe. For more facts about the hack job, check out Senior Correspondent Mike Causey's column.
It's been nearly three weeks since the Thrift Savings Plan board announced a data breach of 123,000 Thrift Savings Plan, and since then, the board has been fielding questions from participants, Congress and the media. TSP's executive director answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the breach.
The cover up, as they say, is almost always worse than the crime itself. The rule of thumb, from the Watergate era, is follow the money, although people rarely do that. Following the money can be tricky. Also complicated. Especially in the computer age with multi- national players, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says.
One senator is questioning why it took nine months for the Thrift Savings Plan board to find out about a sophisticated cyber attack that compromised 123,000 TSP participants' accounts. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also wants to know why Congress wasn't informed of the breach until more than a month after it was reported to the board.