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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

TSP bugs out

ARCHIVES
More computer bugs have been discovered in the software that will support two new funds for the Thrift Savings Plan, according to a recent update from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The good news is that the contractor building the new recordkeeping system expected to find even more computer bugs than it did. Successful tests of the software have improved from 26 percent of all tests in mid-September to 51 percent this month.

Remember, TSP participants will be able to begin investing in the S and I funds beginning in May 2001, whether or not the new recordkeeping system is up and running.

The S Fund will track the Wilshire 4500 index, which covers the thousands of stocks not included in the S&P 500. The I Fund will track the Europe, Austral-Asia and Far East (EAFE) stock index. The EAFE includes stocks of companies in 20 countries and is affected by both stock price changes and foreign currency changes in relation to the U.S. dollar.

Judges' Pay

Administrative judges at the Merit Systems Protection Board would see a boost in pay under a bill, H.R. 3312, that passed in the House Tuesday.

The bill creates a new MSPB administrative judge pay schedule designed to eliminate disparities in pay between MSPB judges and administrative judges at other agencies. Currently, the top administrative judge salary is the final step at the GS-15 level. The new pay schedule allows judges at the top tier, AJ-4, to earn 92 percent of the next-to-highest rate of basic pay for the Senior Executive Service.

Health Care Sounding Board

The Defense Department's managed health care plan, Tricare, is expanding its survey data collection to include inpatient customer satisfaction and purchased care outpatient customer satisfaction. The inpatient survey will collect data on patient satisfaction with the quality of inpatient care, while the other survey looks at satisfaction with network and contract health care providers outside the Military Health System.

The Military Health System survey program now includes six surveys of customer satisfaction with various aspects of Tricare. The surveys provide a sounding board for Tricare enrollees, but also provide valuable information to agencies and Congress for developing health care policy.

To view the results of previous surveys, go to http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tricaresurveys/.

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