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TSP Shows Modest Gains, Blended Retirement Goes Live and More

A weekly round-up of pay and benefits news.

Monday marked the launch of the federal government’s new blended retirement system for military personnel, and officials at the government's 401(k)-style retirement savings plan have developed a wealth of new material to acquaint service members with the program.

Beginning Jan. 1, all new members of the military are automatically enrolled in the blended retirement system, which provides an employer match to Thrift Savings Plan investments in addition to a less generous defined-benefit pension plan. Current service members have until the end of 2018 to decide whether to opt into the program.

TSP has posted a video on YouTube to provide an overview to members of the military, and it has published two physical booklets to help service members to understand and best utilize the retirement savings program. For current personnel weighing whether to make the switch to blended, officials recommended a video from last summer, as well as an FAQ comparing blended to the standard retirement plan.

The TSP's various investment portfolios all ended 2017 with modest gains. Leading the way, as it did for much of the year, was the I Fund with its international stocks, which grew 1.60 percent in December. The fund grew 25.42 percent in 2017.

The common stocks of the C Fund grew 1.11 percent last month, bringing its performance last year to 21.82 percent. The S Fund, made up of small- and midsize business investments, grew 0.47 percent in December, ending 2017 with 18.22 percent in growth.

The fixed income (F) fund increased 0.48 percent last month, for a 2017 total of 3.82 percent, and the G Fund, which is made up of government securities, grew 0.20 percent in December. In 2017, the G Fund increased 2.33 percent.

The TSP’s lifecycle funds, which shift investments to more stable portfolios as enrollees get closer to retirement, all ended 2017 in the black. In December, the L Income Fund, for people already receiving annuities, increased 0.41 percent; L 2020, 0.57 percent; L 2030, 0.81 percent; L 2040, 0.92 percent; and L 2050, 1.00 percent.

In 2017, the L Income Fund increased 6.19 percent; L 2020, 9.86 percent; L 2030, 14.54 percent; L 2040, 16.77 percent; and L 2050, 18.81 percent.

The Office of Personnel Management announced on Tuesday that agencies cannot use an emergency leave transfer program established after October 2017’s wildfires in northern California to provide time off to federal employees impacted by wildfires that began last month in the southern part of the state.

But in a memo to federal agencies, acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan suggested a separate program will be authorized in the near future.

“After coordinating with federal agencies to assess the impact on employees adversely affected by the California wildfires that began in December 2017, OPM, in consultation with [the Office of Management and Budget], has determined that the establishment of an ELTP for this separate emergency . . . is warranted,” she wrote. “This means agencies may need to administer multiple, concurrent ELTPs.”

McGettigan reiterated guidance provided to agencies last fall on best practices for juggling multiple programs for feds to donate their excess leave to their colleagues in disaster areas, which was issued after several regions in the United States were impacted by hurricanes in short succession.

And she noted that OPM can transfer additional leave from one agency to another, but “only if they do not receive sufficient amounts of donated annual leave to meet the needs of emergency leave recipients within the agency.”

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