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

Keep on rolling

Federal employees will be able to roll over more money into their Thrift Savings Plan accounts under a regulation that will take effect on April 1. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which runs the TSP, announced the new rollover options in the Feb. 27 Federal Register. A TSP board spokesman said the change will make the TSP more like private sector 401k programs, which allow workers to roll over money into their accounts from a greater number of sources. Currently, TSP participants can only roll over money from 401k plans and from conduit Individual Retirement Accounts, which hold money rolled over from 401k plans. Since the limited rollover option appeared last year, federal workers have made 4,196 rollovers worth $73 million. Under the new rules, money can also be rolled over into TSP accounts from traditional Individual Retirement Accounts and additional eligible employer plans. New TSP System Moving Along The Thrift Savings Plan's new computer system is moving along on schedule, a TSP board spokesman said Tuesday. A new contractor, Materials, Communication & Computers Inc. (MATCOM), of Alexandria, Va., has been working on the system since last summer and is on schedule to complete its work by July, the spokesman said. The new system will turn the TSP into a daily valued, share-based program, with transactions processed every day. Last summer, the TSP board fired its original contractor for the new system, Fairfax, Va.-based American Management Systems. AMS and the board are now locked in a court battle, with the board seeking $350 million in damages and AMS seeking payment of some unpaid invoices. Last week, a judge said the Employee Thrift Advisory Council, made up of federal employee representatives, may submit a brief in support of the TSP board's legal efforts. The council is seeking to counter claims by AMS and the Justice Department that the TSP board has no right to file suit. Don't Lose Your Leave Are you working nonstop to defend America and take care of its citizens in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks? Don't worry about losing your annual leave. The Office of Personnel Management has you covered. On Monday, OPM issued a final regulation that lets federal workers hold on to annual leave that they would otherwise have lost because of the government's "use-it-or-lose-it" vacation rules. The final regulation makes permanent an interim rule that OPM issued in November. Under normal rules, most employees can carry over no more than 240 hours of annual leave from one year to the next. Under the OPM regulation, anyone involved in the response to the terrorist attacks can hold on to their leave for two extra years-and longer, under certain circumstances. See the special leave rules in the Nov. 2 Federal Register.

Brian Friel is founder of One Nation Analytics, an independent research, analytics and consulting firm for the federal market.

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