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TSP Officials Highlight Upcoming Innovations, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

Officials at the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program has begun previewing some of the new features that will be available for Thrift Savings Plan participants when it completes the move to a new recordkeeper this summer.

In an email sent last week to participants, TSP Executive Director Ravindra Deo said a series of long-requested features will become available, including a mobile app, an AI-powered virtual assistant and the ability to chat with a TSP representative via the agency’s website. The mobile app will allow users to use fingerprint or facial recognition features in their smart phones if they choose, Deo said.

The new recordkeeper will also enable a number of initiatives to reduce the amount of paperwork participants must fill out and streamline account management processes. Deo said participants will soon be able to complete transactions via electronic signature, and touted a “streamlined” rollover process, including being able to scan rollover checks with your mobile device.

The changes will also allow participants to make loan payments and account disbursements electronically, as well as additional features to improve the security of participants’ accounts. And the TSP will begin offering participants access to thousands of mutual funds.

Deo wrote that there will be a brief period where participants may have reduced access to their accounts as the agency completes transition to the new provider.

“As part of the transition, some transactions will be temporarily unavailable for a brief period in May 2022,” he wrote. “but don’t worry, your money will still be invested during this time. Be sure to look out for updates on, in your inboxes and in your mailboxes as we approach this transition period.”

Senators Advance Bill to Codify Hiring Process Changes

A Senate panel last week voted to advance legislation that would codify recent changes to the federal hiring process to stress applicants’ job experience over educational attainment into law.

The Office of Personnel Management is already in the process of moving toward a more experienced-based hiring process that focuses more on conducting skills assessments of applicants for federal jobs with agency subject matter experts, rather than setting the bar at what degree an applicant has in some circumstances. The initiative is the result of an executive order by former President Trump, following successful pilot programs spearheaded by the U.S. Digital Service.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week voted to advance the Chance to Compete Act (S. 3423) to the Senate floor on a bipartisan basis. The bill, introduced by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and James Lankford, R-Okla., would codify these changes to the hiring process in federal law.

The bill also requires OPM to maintain a publicly available annual database outlining the types of assessments used for each position, whether a candidate was selected, and what hiring authority an agency used to fill the position.