Quick Hits

*** The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced April 17 that it would temporarily waive a requirement for annuitants to obtain notarized signatures from spouses for withdrawals from federal pensions and retirement plans. The consent requirement still exists, but can be fulfilled by a written signature or electronic alternative. The move comes as notaries are hard to access due to shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

*** Between 2014 and 2018, federal agencies spent about $800 million annually on call centers. According to an April 13 oversight report, federal procurement systems aren't set up to record whether contractors supplying call center services to agencies including Health and Human Services, the State Department and the Department of Defense allow subcontractors to move work offshore.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the labor, health and human services subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and Rep. Tim Ryan, (D-Ohio), who sought the Government Accountability Office report, were concerned that subcontractors might be pushing work outside the U.S., blunting labor protections and creating security vulnerabilities.

GAO examined five call center contracts from three agencies including HHS, DOD and the General Services Administration, and found that most of the contracts had provision to prevent offshoring.

"GAO's review of selected contracts found that four of the five contracts expressly stated that some or all work must be performed within the continental United States or by U.S. citizens," it said.