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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
September/October 2016

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ERS seeks additional funding for retirement and health benefits, says employee retirement plan on path to actuarial soundness

The Employees Retirement System (ERS) has requested an additional $80.7 million in general revenue funding during the FY 2018-19 biennium in order to fund employee pension programs at actuarially sound contribution rates. An actuarially sound contribution rate would cover the normal costs of benefits and eliminate any unfunded liabilities within 31 years.

According to the ERS, the 84th Texas Legislature made substantial improvements in the financial state of the retirement fund by increasing contributions from both the state and plan members. Because of these increased contributions, the funding period for the actuarial unfunded liability went from an infinite to a 33-year funding period. Consequently, the additional funding requested to achieve an actuarially sound contribution rate during FY 2018-19 is far less than the $378.7 million ERS requested for the same purpose during FY 2016-17.

Most of the additional funding would be directed toward the regular ERS retirement trust fund, with smaller amounts targeted for the Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Fund and the Judicial Retirement Plan.

The Employees Retirement System has also requested an additional $332.2 million in general revenue funding for the group benefits plan: $134.1 million to continue providing health plan benefits at the existing level and $198.1 million to replenish a contingency reserve fund to the statutorily required amount.

According to ERS, the state continues to face significant challenges in the group benefit plan due to rising costs associated with health care delivery in the U.S. Health care costs are rising faster than both national income and the overall rate of inflation, and the average annual health benefit cost increase is projected to be 8.5 percent from FY17 through FY19.

The ERS' appropriations request also states that benefit programs are important to maintaining a strong and responsive state workforce, and cautions that any benefit design changes could increase statewide employee turnover, increasing recruitment, retention and training costs and negatively impacting state agencies' ability to provide needed services.

TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said he was pleased with the improvements made to strengthen the pension program, and emphasized that the agency strongly supports the ERS request for additional funding for both retirement and health care benefits.

Banner showing update regarding the Texas Sunset Commission's ERS review. 'The next meeting of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission is tentatively scheduled for November 10, during which the commission is expected to adopt recommendations pertaining to the Employees Retirement System. Those recommendations will be included in the proposed legislation for the 85th Texas Legislature to consider when it convenes in January 2017. Follow this link for more information about the Sunset review of ERS.'

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Spyware: information security's invisible enemy

clipart showing PC monitor with an alert saying 'spyware detected!'

Spyware is a frightening name; the word conjures up images of the dangerous, cloak-and-dagger world of valuable state secrets.

Actually, in the context of information security, spyware means any software that monitors your computer activity, such as your internet usage, without your knowledge. One type of spyware is known as adware and, although it may seem invasive, this activity is usually benign as it is used to target advertising based on your online viewing history.

Spyware can also be used in more nefarious ways. Attackers could use spyware to track keystrokes and steal usernames, passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, purchase order data and other types of valuable information. At TDCJ, spyware can be a serious threat to purchasing and contract details, vendor contact information, employee identity information and criminal history information.


How can you tell if you have spyware on your computer?

Spyware, like many other forms of potential malware, uses your computer’s processing power and memory in order to run. This use of the computer’s resources can cause a noticeable slowdown of the computer’s performance. Symptoms of a spyware infection may include:

These symptoms are not unique to spyware; they might also indicate the presence of some other malware, or even multiple malware infections. If your work computer shows any of these symptoms, contact the Information Technology Division’s Service Center right away so the issue can be remedied as quickly as possible.


How can you reduce your risk of getting a spyware infection?

TDCJ's Information Technology Division uses a variety of technologies to help protect agency computers and data from security threats, including spyware. ITD provides anti-malware software on all desktops and laptops, full-disk encryption on laptops and agency-issued smartphones, and secure VPN access for employees who need to connect to the TDCJ network while away from the office.

ITD strives to ensure all agency computers have no security vulnerabilities; however, no matter how sophisticated these technologies are, they’re not effective if employees do not actively abide by and enforce the agency's security policy. Employees must do their part to protect the agency's computers.

There are a several steps you can take to further reduce the risk of getting a spyware infection on your TDCJ computer:

If you have any questions about spyware, malware or information security in general, contact the ITD Office of the Information Security Officer by phone at (936) 437-1800 or by sending an email to

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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 Auditor’s Office toll free.

Crime Stoppers 1-800-832-8477 Office of Inspector General 1-866-372-8329 State Auditor's Office 1-800-892-8348

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ERS seeks additional funding for retirement and health benefits, says employee retirement plan on path to actuarial soundness

Spyware: information security's invisible enemy

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