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NEWS:

NARFE Headquarters, April 14, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Even with Congress out of session, there is still plenty of news being made that affects the federal community – hence, this ‘special edition’ Hotline. This week, we learned that the federal hiring freeze has ended and a plan has been submitted to reduce the size of the federal workforce. NARFE is evaluating the plan, much of which will require congressional action, and will act accordingly. We also learned that the administration intends to provide the federal workforce a 1.9 percent pay increase in 2018. While we applaud the statutorily prescribed increase, more can and should be done to make up for previous pay freezes and low increases.”

OMB Submits Government Reorganization Plan, Federal Hiring Freeze Over

This week, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a government reform plan, titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce,” which is available here.

This plan was issued pursuant to the president’s executive order directing OMB to submit a comprehensive plan to reorganize executive branch departments and agencies, and the presidential memorandum that imposed the hiring freeze, which called for OMB to produce a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal workforce. With the issuance of this long-term plan, the federal hiring freeze is officially over.

OMB’s plan directs agencies to draft Agency Reform Plans by June 30, 2017. The government-wide reform plan will be proposed as part of the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget. The memo asks agencies to: eliminate, restructure and merge activities; improve organizational efficiency; and revamp workforce management to improve performance, increase accountability and reduce costs through avenues such as long-term workforce reductions.

Congressional approval will be required for many aspects of this plan, including eliminating programs and implementing restructuring and merging of agencies. Other aspects of the plan, such as those aimed at improving efficiency and workforce management, may not require congressional approval, but must operate within existing personnel law. Agencies also may have significant flexibility regarding workforce reductions, if they do not conflict with congressional appropriations.

OMB is seeking public input on the reforms, which can be provided here. While this request for input is directed at finding suggestions for fixing what is wrong with government, NARFE strongly encourages its members to comment to tell OMB what is right with government – what ought to be maintained and preserved in this process. If you have good, constructive ideas for improvements based on your personal experience, provide those as well.

Trump Proposes 1.9 Percent Pay Increase

The White House confirmed this week that it will propose a 1.9 percent pay increase for current civilian federal employees for 2018. The pay raise will be included in the president’s detailed fiscal year 2018 budget, set to be released in May. Congress has the authority to set pay in the appropriations process, but in the past several years, has deferred to the president's proposed pay increase. The White House did not specify what portion of the pay increase will go toward locality pay adjustments.

The proposed raise is equal to the increase in the Employment Cost Index for private-sector wages and salaries, minus 0.5 percent. NARFE is pleased that the administration has proposed an increase that tracks with long-standing statutory policy, but believes the president and Congress should pursue a more robust increase given the years of below-market increases and pay freezes.

Public Service Recognition Week May 7-13

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), which has been celebrated since 1985, is May 7-13! Join NARFE, an annual sponsor, in thanking public servants who have dedicated their lives to the public good.

On Sunday, May 7, the fifth annual Public Service Charity 5k Run/Walk will be held in Washington, DC, to kick off the week of celebration. Not able to make it to the nation’s capital? You can participate locally in the race by forming teams to run or walk together in your hometown. All proceeds from the event will support civilian federal and postal workers through the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA).

NARFE members are encouraged to submit and customize a letter to the editor to their local newspaper recognizing the great work that federal employees do for our country. Share your story of service in the personalization section of the letter to raise awareness of the importance of public service in everyday life.

Consumer Prices Increase in March

Relevant to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to civil service annuities for 2018, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.08 percent in March 2017. The new CPI-W figure for March 2017 was 237.656. This is 1.11 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2016, which is used to determine the 2018 COLA.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) received a 2.0 percent COLA in March 2017. Looking ahead to the 2018 COLA for FECA benefits, the March 2017 CPI-W figure (237.656) is 0.96 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390).

You can access NARFE’s full COLA update here.

Hotline Published As Needed Until April 28

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published as needed until April 28.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

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NARFE Headquarters, April 7, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Members of Congress are set to return to their home districts as the House and Senate recess from April 7-24. During this time, NARFE members should engage their legislators by setting up meetings, attending town halls and encouraging their fellow members to do so, as well. Members of Congress need to know that we remain vigilant. NARFE members should take a proactive approach with their legislators as the federal budget season begins. Tell them that the federal community has paid its fair share to reduce the deficit and that we strongly oppose any cuts to the earned pay and benefits of federal employees and retirees.”

Senators Introduce Legislation to Change TSP Withdrawal Options

Sens. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Thomas R. Carper, D-DE, this week introduced the TSP Modernization Act, which would provide more flexible withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts. Limited withdrawal options are one of the leading reasons participants transfer their money out of the TSP, which provides sound investment options at a low cost for federal employees and retirees, as well as members of the uniformed services.

Specifically, the bill would allow multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals that participants can time to their individual needs. Currently, participants who have separated from federal service are allowed only two post-separation withdrawals (in the form of a lump sum payment, a stream of monthly payments or annuity payments).

For participants who are still working and are older than age 59½, the bill would allow multiple age-based withdrawals. Current rules allow only one age-based withdrawal for those still working.

The bill also would add flexibility to the TSP by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permitting periodic withdrawals to be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while allowing the account balance to remain in the TSP. Currently, periodic payments can be selected only in monthly intervals, can be adjusted only once per year and cannot be stopped unless the participant withdraws the entire remaining balance.

Finally, the bill would eliminate the withdrawal election deadline. Currently, participants are required to make a post-separation withdrawal election by April 1 of the year following the year in which they turn age 70½ and are separated from federal service. This requirement too often is conflated with the requirement to begin taking required minimum distributions the same day, which leads to withdrawals of the full TSP balance.

The Employee Thrift Advisory Council, of which NARFE is a member, supports the improvements in withdrawal flexibility. Send a letter to your legislators asking them to support the bill here.

Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date Delayed 60 Days

The Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule to extend by 60 days the applicability date for defining who is a “fiduciary” when providing retirement investment advice, delaying the full implementation of the “conflict of interest” or “fiduciary” rule to June 9, 2017. President Trump signed a presidential memo directing the Labor Department to review the rule to determine whether it should be rescinded or revised.

This delay is one of the first steps in a process that could lead to the demise or substantial alteration of the rule. However, based on the release, it appears that the DOL does not anticipate any additional delays beyond 60 days in setting the definition of who is a fiduciary and establishing the standards of conduct necessary to ensure the adviser is acting in the best interests of the client.

The DOL also does not expect to complete its review of the fiduciary rule within the 60-day delay period. The full review is scheduled to take place during the transition period before the second phase of the rule is set to begin in January 2018. Fortunately for TSP participants, the rollover advice portion of the rule is set to begin June 9, and will be enforceable.

Thank you to those who wrote to the DOL in support of the rule during the notice and comment period. NARFE supports the rule and is concerned by continued attempts to undo it. Read NARFE’s full statement in support of the fiduciary rule here.

Webinar Recording Available: ‘Fed Up(date) with the 115th Congress’

Interested in getting the latest on congressional action relating to issues affecting the federal community? The NARFE Legislative Department hosted a webinar this week reviewing how upcoming budget battles and advancing postal reform legislation could impact all federal and postal employees and retirees. Make sure you know the threats facing active and retired federal employees. The hour-long webinar hosted by NARFE Deputy Legislative Director John Hatton is available here for NARFE members to view.

Hotline Published As Needed Until April 28

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published as needed until April 28.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to April 7, 2017

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NARFE Headquarters, March 31, 2017

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“I had the honor this week of attending the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum. This important event brought advocates to Washington, DC, to lend a hand in support of research to end this terrible disease. Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country, costing Americans $259 billion per year, and will continue to impact all of us as the nation ages. Since NARFE members have been helping to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research since 1985, it was gratifying to see that NARFE was represented on Capitol Hill as advocates met with their elected officials to raise awareness of the economic as well as emotional toll that this disease takes on those living with Alzheimer’s, their loved ones and caregivers.”

NARFE Participates in Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum

This past week, representatives of NARFE joined more than 1,300 advocates from around the country at the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2017 Advocacy Forum to ask Congress for increased federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in America, and is the only disease of the “top 10” that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. NARFE is proud of its status as a Zenith Society member of the Alzheimer’s Association, having raised more than $12 million to date to fund Alzheimer’s research.

During the three-day conference, attendees learned more about the detrimental effects that Alzheimer’s has on individuals living with the disease, their loved ones and caregivers. To wrap up the conference, Capitol Hill was “painted purple” by advocates who informed legislators and their staff about what Congress can do to help end this terrible disease. Click here to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association now.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging also held a hearing this week titled “The Arc of Alzheimer’s: From Preventing Cognitive Decline in Americans to Assuring Quality Care for Those Living with the Disease.” Panel witnesses urged Congress to support Alzheimer’s research and requested that the National Institutes of Health receive increased funding for Alzheimer’s research for fiscal year 2018. 

April 4 Legislative Webinar: ‘Fed Up(date) with the 115th Congress’

Next week, the NARFE Legislative Department will host a webinar on congressional action relating to issues affecting the federal community. The webinar will bring you up to date on upcoming budget battles and advancing postal reform legislation and how each could impact all federal and postal employees and retirees. It’s important to know the threats facing the federal community.

The hour-long webinar will be hosted by NARFE Deputy Legislative Director John Hatton on Tuesday, April 4, at 2 p.m. ET. Registration for this live event is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so click here to register now! Those unable to attend the live webinar can access it on the NARFE website within 48 hours.

State Tax Roundup Available

NARFE’s Annual State Tax Roundup, featured in the April issue of narfe magazine, also is available to Association members on NARFE’s website here. Most states tax federal retirement benefits, often with some exemption(s), but there are some states with no income tax and some that exempt pensions. NARFE tracks this state-by-state information on an annual basis. Make sure you know how your state taxes federal retirement benefits!

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the new, easy-to-use Legislative Action Center to send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall, or telephone town hall with your Senator(s) or Representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the new LAC to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

The Legislative Department appreciates your advocacy efforts to protect the earned pay and benefits of active and retired federal employees!

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and available to NARFE members via telephone (703-838-7780 and toll-free at 1-877-217-8234). Past editions are archived for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 703-838-7760.

Return to March 31, 2017

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