ERS Sunset Review update
During the past year, the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission has conducted a thorough review of the Employees Retirement System of Texas. In November the Commission published its adopted recommendations for consideration during the 85th legislative session beginning in January.
The Commission’s ERS report includes recommendations related to the following items:
- Improving contracting procedures to comply with best practices and provide best value to the state.
- Providing strategic management for the Group Benefits Program to ensure its effectiveness and improve planning for the future.
- Balancing ERS' benefit decision processes with the need to provide full information for members.
- Improving cost tracking and reporting procedures, to include profit sharing, associated with alternative investments.
- Changing the ERS statute to reflect standard elements of the Sunset Review process.
The Commission's report also includes recommended changes to investment timing studies and audit programs, and recommends requiring the ERS Board of Trustees to approve any individual alternative investments of more than $100 million. These recommendations were not included in the initial staff report but were added later in the process.
More information about the Sunset process is available at www.sunset.texas.gov.
TDCJ prohibits discrimination, harassment in the workplace
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a zero tolerance policy for all forms of unlawful discrimination, to include sexual harassment. TDCJ policies governing these issues can be found in PD-12 Equal Employment Opportunity, PD-13 Sexual Harassment and Discourteous Conduct of a Sexual Nature, and PD-31 Discrimination in the Workplace.
If you believe you have been subjected to any form of workplace discrimination or harassment, notify your immediate supervisor, department director, warden or other TDCJ official. If the allegations involve your supervisor, you can report them to your second-level supervisor or a higher authority, including the agency's executive director.
You can also contact Employee Relations Intake at 936-437-4240, the Office of the Inspector General at 936-437-5030 or file a complaint through the employee grievance process. Discrimination and harassment charges can also be filed with the Texas Workforce Commission's Civil Rights Division at 888-452-4778 or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800-669-4000.
W-2, 1095 tax forms scheduled
Tax time is approaching and, in addition to the standard W-2 wage and salary information form used to report income and withholdings, taxpayers will use 1095 forms to report that they and their tax dependents had medical insurance coverage during the previous year or to claim the premium tax credit.
Form W-2 shows your wage and salary information, along with the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. Your W-2 is sent by the agency's Payroll Processing Department to unit or departmental human resources offices for distribution by January 31. Inactive employees who are on leave without pay or separated as of the printing date will receive their 2016 forms by mail at their home address.
Keep in mind that withholding too little from your paycheck means paying a tax bill at the end of the year and withholding too much means temporarily losing access to your money. Always withhold the correct amount by keeping your Form W-4 Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate up to date; you may submit Form W-4 any time you need to change your withholding tax deduction. The form should be filled out in its entirety and submitted either to your unit or department human resources office, or directly to the Payroll Processing Department.
The Affordable Care Act requires most United States citizens to have medical insurance; those who don't have a minimal level of coverage could receive a fine. TDCJ employees covered through the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program can use Form 1095-B to verify that they and any covered dependents had medical insurance during 2016 to avoid paying the fine.
Every medical coverage provider that covered you and any of your dependents for at least one day in 2016 is required to send you a Form 1095-B. If you had medical coverage through another employer's carrier, you will receive a separate Form 1095-B from each one. If you had GBP medical coverage in 2016 and don’t have your 1095-B by the end of February, or if you lose it, contact your medical insurance provider to request another copy.
Active employees should contact their benefits coordinator to correct any misinformation on the form; former employees and retirees can make corrections by contacting the Employees Retirement System directly. If you have to make corrections on the form, contact your medical coverage provider to find out if you need an updated 1095-B.
TDCJ will send agency employees a Form 1095-C, which includes information about the health insurance coverage offered to you. Form 1095-C can only be used by those who purchased coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, so most TDCJ employees will not use the form. However, if you purchased health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and wish to claim the premium tax credit, this information will assist you in determining whether you are eligible. Contact your benefits coordinator if you have questions regarding Form 1095-C.
As with all tax records, keep your 1095 forms on file as supporting documentation.
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OptumRx takes over as administrator for HealthSelect Prescription Drug Program
The Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees awarded the third-party administrator contract for the HealthSelect Prescription Drug Program to OptumRx, an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare, Inc. The contract runs from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2020.
In December, UnitedHealthcare sent a new, combined medical and prescription benefits identification card with OptumRx information to HealthSelect participants. These identification cards can be used beginning January 1 and replace both the HealthSelect of Texas or Consumer Directed HealthSelect (UnitedHealthcare) ID card and the HealthSelect Prescription Drug Program (Caremark) ID card. If you did not receive a new card, you can request one by calling United Healthcare customer service or through your online account at the United Healthcare website. If you need a card immediately, online account holders can also print a temporary card from the United Healthcare website.
OptumRx's mail service pharmacy will be available beginning January 1. Participants with active, refillable mail service prescriptions with Caremark will get a letter from OptumRx in early January explaining the transfer of their refills.
For more information about the new prescription plan administrator, go to www.HealthSelectRx.com for helpful resources such as the Locate a Pharmacy tool to find an in-network pharmacy through OptumRx, along with answers to frequently asked questions. You can also contact a customer care representative toll-free at 866-336-9371.
Information security for email
Email has become an everyday part of our personal and professional lives and, for many of us, our days begin and end reading, composing and sending email correspondence. Because it’s such a common part of our lives, it is easy to forget how careless use of some email features can have a negative effect on information security.
Here are some examples of information security issues related to email, along with a few simple steps you can take to avoid trouble.
Autocomplete is a useful feature for most email users; typing a portion of the recipient's name allows autocomplete to automatically select the recipient's address. Unfortunately, in an organization as large as TDCJ, it is easy for autocomplete to enter the wrong email address. You try to send an email to John Smith, a coworker in your office, but autocomplete selects John W. Smith in another agency office. If you don’t catch the error, you might be giving confidential information to unauthorized recipients. To prevent this simple mistake, always double check the recipients name and email address before you hit send.
These are abbreviations for "carbon copy" and "blind carbon copy," though very few of us still use carbon paper to create copies of correspondence. Both cc and bcc are easy ways to keep people informed, but both can cause trouble if used incorrectly. When you reply to a cc’d email, you must decide whether you want to reply only to the sender, or to everyone who was included in the original email's cc list. If your reply includes sensitive material, avoid using Reply All and be sure all recipients are authorized to receive the information.
Blind carbon copies allow you to include people in an email correspondence without notifying other recipients, but remember, if you privately send a copy of correspondence to your supervisor and they respond using Reply All, all recipients will know the original email was secretly bcc'd.
Distribution lists are collections of email addresses represented as a single email address. They are useful for sending mass emails, which sometimes go out to hundreds or thousands of people. Be careful to check the distribution list, as people may be added or removed without your knowledge. Also, when receiving email from a distribution list, keep in mind that Reply All will send your email not only to the original sender, but also to everyone on the distribution list.
Always keep in mind that email has very few privacy protections. Once sent, you lose control over your correspondence; it can be quickly and easily forwarded to anyone anywhere in the world, it can be posted on an easily searched public forum or archive, and it can become subject to a Public Information Act open records request. For these reasons, think twice before sending out any restricted information by email.
The Information Technology Division works hard to protect the agency's computer data and employees' personal information, but security precautions work only if users learn them and put them into action. If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding information security at work, contact the Information Security Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 936-437-1800.
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Employee Assistance Program:
Help for holiday stress
Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources
Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year
The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditors Office toll free.
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