On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:
- Twitter, facebook, instagram, Google+ — all these tools and more have been around for a few years. But many government agencies are still slow to see their value. We’re not saying there aren’t real pockets of innovation. But on the whole government is slow. Why is that? Click here for the full recap.
- The pace of technology is unbelievably fast. Tablets, mobile and big data are all transforming the technology world. But cybersecurity experts and chief information officers are struggling to keep up. Click here for the full recap.
We spend a lot of time talking budgets. We wanted to pay attention to your money — the Thrift Savings Plan numbers for 2012.
And 2012 was a good year for the federal government’s retirement plans. Across the board, all the TSP funds showed gains for 2012. The big winner for the year was the TSP I Fund, made up of international stocks of 22 developed countries, which was up 18.62 percent, despite the upheaval internationally over the past year. (In May alone, the I Fund dropped more than 11 percent.)
TSP’s S Fund, made up of small and medium-sized U.S. companies, was up 18.57 percent over the past year.
The smallest gains came from the TSP’s super safe G Fund, made up of government securities, as Federal News Radio’s Mike Causey says, the G Fund never has a bad day, but it also doesn’t have the really good days. The G Fund was up 1.47 percent in 2012.
The federal government once again may resort to a financial maneuver involving federal employee retirement savings to stave off a default, and the Thrift Savings Plan once again is seeking to assure investors that there would be no personal cost to them. The Treasury Department has said it can use several short-term maneuvers, including one involving the Thrift Savings Plan’s government securities fund, to buy time during the debt ceiling standoff. That fund, called the G Fund, is available only through the 401(k)-style TSP program for federal employees. It yields returns that are nearly comparable to those of mid-term Treasury bonds, although investments are made daily. In a “disinvestment” period, the Treasury stops issuing the securities that make up the fund.Though the Treasury has yet to use the measure, TSP managers released a statement in hopes of calming any possible anxiety. TSP’s Executive Director Greg Long.
Other stories worth reading:
Earlier this week, we discussed the Washington battles gearing up about nominations.
Politico: Why Obama’s picking fights: President Obama, the same president who campaigned twice on breaking the cycle of conflict in Washington, sees the utility—even the necessity—of ratting Republicans cages as he plunges into a succession of upcoming battles over the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, the debt ceiling, $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts, immigration reform and gun control. Obama’s willingness to take a more overtly adversarial stance is, in part, a nod to the reality that he’s about to start his second term with solid approval numbers.
AP: A Republican senator is threatening to delay John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said he wants answers from the White House on its response to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Graham accused the administration of “stonewalling.” Specifically, he wants to know who edited U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to testify on the attack last month because of an illness. She is expected to address the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in two weeks. Four Americans, including the ambassador, died in that September attack.
National Journal: Now that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is likely to be nominated to be Treasury secretary, it’s a good time to ask: What makes a good chief of staff anyway? Matt Cooper reviews six qualities worth keeping in mind for the president’s next chief of staff.
The SEVEN stories that impact your life
- The conference scandal have caused more resignations and resassignments. This time at Veterans Affairs. The resignations are in response to last year’s findings of wasteful spending at a 2011 conference. Federal Times reports, Alice Muellerweiss, dean of the VA Learning University, resigned over her role in organizing two lavish human resources training conferences in Orlando, Fla. Tonya Deanes, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Human Resources Management, was also reassigned to other duties.
- The so-called retirement tsunami might be slowing a bit. Federal Times reports the retirement wave of federal employees started off strong in 2012, but it slowed considerably toward the end of the year. In all, 106,550 federal employees submitted retirement claims to the Office of Personnel Management last year. That is 1.7 percent above the 104,810 claims submitted in 2011, and 26 percent above the 84,427 retirements recorded in 2010.
- U.S. Postal Service officials and postal unions have long pushed Congress to relieve the agency of its obligation to prefund retiree health benefits. And now the Government Accountability Office agrees. The GAO writes it’s a burden other agencies don’t share and one that officials says the Postal Service can’t afford. Defaults on prefunding payments total $11.1 billion. The Washington Post reports, not everyone agrees that removing or substantially reducing the prefunding requirement is the best way out of the USPS hole.
- Politico reports, the military illegally punished alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning by keeping him in stricter conditions than were necessary during much of the nearly nine months he spent in a Marine Corps brig, a military judge ruled Tuesday. Army Col. Denise Lind granted the Army private nearly four months’ credit off any sentence he may receive for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables to the pro-transparency organization.
- Government Executive reports, the head of the Social Security Administration could be out in less than two weeks, and it’s not clear yet who will replace him. President Obama has not nominated a successor to Michael Astrue, a George W. Bush appointee whose six-year term expires on Jan. 19. It’s possible an announcement could come as early as this week, according to a Capitol Hill source, since the position requires Senate confirmation. SSA’s Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Colvin could be named acting head of the agency before Obama makes a permanent nomination; her term of deputy also expires on Jan. 19.
- Federal News Radio reports, a Republican senator is threatening to delay John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said he wants answers from the White House on its response to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Graham accused the administration of “stonewalling.” Specifically, he wants to know who edited U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to testify on the attack last month because of an illness. She is expected to address the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in two weeks. Four Americans, including the ambassador, died in that September attack.
- And on GovLoop – interested in GIS? Join GovLoop and Esri next Thursday, January 17 as we meet up to talk about the year of GIS in the cloud. Specifically, speakers will cover Esri’s cloud platform for government, civic engagement and the business case for developing on top of it. This is your opportunity to mix and mingle with GIS and developer professionals from throughout the DC area, and learn the use of GIS in the Cloud.
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