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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
May/June 2014

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ERS Annual Enrollment for Plan Year 2015 scheduled for July 7-20

This year's Annual Enrollment for Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees begins July 7 and ends July 20, 2014. During these two weeks agency staff may change their benefits for Plan Year 2015.

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Annual Enrollment is the period during which Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) eligible employees are offered special enrollment opportunities. Now is the time to review benefits for you and your dependents and make changes, if necessary, for the upcoming plan year. Changes to dependent coverage, life and disability insurance and PayFlex contributions are restricted to this period unless the employee or a member of their family experiences a qualifying life event (QLE) such as marriage, divorce, birth or the addition of a new dependent. Evidence of insurability (EOI) may be required to enroll in some benefits.

To participate in an online Annual Enrollment webinar, or to learn the latest information about attending one of the Annual Enrollment fairs being held in locations across the state, go to the Employees Retirement System (ERS) Annual Enrollment Events Calendar on the ERS website. Employees should receive their ERS Annual Enrollment packet, which contains details about your benefits and the choices you can make during Annual Enrollment, at least one week before enrollment begins.

As in past years, agency staff may change their benefits by logging into their ERS online account on the ERS website anytime from July 7 through July 20. Those who miss the online registration deadline or who do not have access to the internet can change their benefits by contacting their Human Resources (HR) benefits representative, Human Resources headquarters, or the ERS directly from July 7 through 5:00 p.m. August 1.

For more information about ERS Annual Enrollment, TDCJ employees should contact HR Employee Services at 936-437-4161 or go to the ERS Annual Enrollment Web page for active employees.

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ACE opinion: can TDCJ employees sell offender crafts for personal gain?

In April, the Advisory Council on Ethics (ACE) issued the following opinion regarding the sale of offender-made craft items by Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees.

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Texas Government Code Section 497.10, Offense: Sale or Offer of Sale of Prison-Produced Articles or Products, states it is a Class B misdemeanor if a person "intentionally sells or offers to sell on the open market in this state an article or product the person knows was manufactured in whole or in part by an inmate of the department or an inmate in any correctional facility or reformatory institution in the state."

This law does not apply to items made by offenders on community supervision, parole or mandatory supervision, or items made by an enterprise which has employed an inmate to take advantage of the franchise tax credit or which is participating in a federally certified prison industry enhancement program. Other exceptions include sales of state flags and services provided under contract for which the Private Sector/Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program does not require certification.

Therefore, unless one of the exceptions applies, it is not legal for a TDCJ employee to offer an offender-made item for sale in a businesslike setting or retail store. If you suspect this activity is occurring, report it to TDCJ’s Office of the Inspector General.

If you need help with a work-related ethics issue, TDCJ’s ACE can help guide you to the proper resolution. Agency employees can learn more about ACE by calling 936-437-6232 or visiting TDCJ's ACE Web page.

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Information security: sensitive personal information in the workplace

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In the course of their normal job duties, some Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employees have access to other people's sensitive personally identifiable information (SPI). Information security is taken seriously at TDCJ and agency employees are responsible for maintaining the security and confidentiality of this information.

Sensitive personal information is protected by several state and federal laws and TDCJ is responsible for protecting the personal information of both staff and offenders. Agency employees are responsible for protecting any SPI with which they come into contact as a result of their job duties. An information security breach could harm the information's owner and result in identity theft and anyone who releases or fails to protect SPI could face disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Privacy and security breaches may also lead to civil and criminal penalties under federal and state law.

There are many kinds of SPI, to include but not limited to Social Security numbers; driver license numbers; birth dates; criminal records, including Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) data; and biometric data such as fingerprints. The primary focus of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is to protect health information, another kind of SPI, which includes documents such as health care provider statements, prescription information and medical records of employees and offenders.

There are a few simple steps you can take to keep information in your office and on your work computer secure. Never write down passwords because it is common to look for a note under a keyboard or in a desk drawer. Do not share your username or password with anyone; if a breach occurs, the logged-in individual is responsible. Lock or log off your computer when you are absent. Make sure paper documents with SPI are disposed of according to the agency’s record retention schedule, and take steps to ensure SPI is secure during work and after hours; appropriate precautions include locking office doors and file cabinets.

To learn more about SPI and information security, ask your supervisor, a Human Resources representative or the Information Security Department.

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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 Annual Enrollment for Plan Year 2015 scheduled for July 7-20

ACE opinion: can TDCJ employees sell offender crafts for personal gain?

Information security: sensitive personal information in the workplace

Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

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