Coming in 2022: A Mobile App for Federal Employees' Retirement Transactions
A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.
Officials at the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program on Tuesday highlighted several new features that the Thrift Savings Plan will offer participants when it completes its transition to a new recordkeeper next year.
At the monthly meeting of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers the TSP, program manager Tanner Nohe said that by the middle of 2022, the TSP will offer participants new options that will make it easier for them to manage their accounts and keep them secure.
At the top of the list is the creation of a mobile app to allow participants to monitor and manage their accounts via their smart phones. There also will be a variety of different ways that participants will be able to get assistance, in addition to existing customer service options.
“We’re also adding a ... virtual assistant and a virtual chat for all participants,” Nohe said. “The assistant will be powered by AI and will be available 24/7 . . . We will also have a virtual chat, which will be with a live agent.”
With the advent of the mobile app, Nohe said that the TSP will expand the number of services and transactions that can occur “on the go.” That will include electronic signatures, more online forms, as well as a new “concierge” service to help people roll money from other retirement accounts into the TSP.
“It will be easier for folks to manage their money once they’re in the TSP, and when it comes to rollovers, we’ll offer a concierge service to help folks who want to roll money into the plan throughout the process,” Nohe said. “Along with that, they’ll be able to scan their checks in so that they won’t have to physically mail them in anymore. For withdrawals, we’ll also have an address locator service to help them process their withdrawals easier.”
The new system also will offer greater flexibility in terms of TSP loans, Nohe said. Currently, the agency allows participants to have two outstanding loans: one general purpose and one primary residence loan. Beginning next year, both outstanding loans can be general purpose, and there will be expanded options to pay loans back in instances where a participant has already left federal service.
Travel Regulations for New Mothers
The General Services Administration on Wednesday issued regulations expanding accommodations for federal employees engaged in temporary duty travel who are nursing a new child.
Under the new rule published in the Federal Register, a federal employee who is nursing a child while traveling for work may bring a spouse or caregiver to watch the child while the employee is working at the government’s expense, and if no “attendant” is necessary, agencies may pay for services related to the storage and shipment of breast milk for the child.
“In order to not force employees to make a choice between nursing or fulfilling work duties, federal agencies may recognize that a nursing employee on official travel has a special need, as verified per regulatory requirements,” GSA wrote. “Agencies may determine that the special need means that a spouse, nanny or other attendant can accompany the employee on the trip at government expense in order watch the child in between the employee’s reasonable break periods to breastfeed while working at the temporary duty station.”
The new rule is effective immediately.