For the last several months the TSP has been running a beta test of its new website. Many of you who have accessed your TSP accounts have been given an opportunity to test the site and to make comments. The TSP claims the new site is “Better. Faster. Easier.” and that it is “improved” and “user friendly”.
All of the Thrift Board’s claims are true. Of course, the fact that the old website dated from circa 1997 and had gotten very few updates since its creation means that the bar was set quite low for “Better. Faster. Easier.”
Among the improvements TSP participants will see are:
- Multiple access points on different pages. For example, there are links to interfund transfers on more than one page.
- The main menu appears on all pages. There is no longer the need to backtrack to find what you are looking for.
- Easier navigation. The pages are more intuitive and you can find items more quickly than on the old site.
The main menu has the following areas:
- My Account. This takes you to a page where you login to your account. You can see your account at a glance and can perform account actions. You can also login to your account directly from the home page.
- Plan Participation. This section has information on eligibility, managing your account, interfund transfers and TSP loans.
- Investment Funds. This gives basic information on each fund and has a link to the current Fund Information Sheet for more in depth information
- Planning and Tools. There are basic calculators here. However, there was no access to either a monthly payment or an annuity calculator, as there is on the current website. Hopefully, this is due to the fact that this is a beta version and does not contain everything that the final version will.
- Life Events. Information about the role of the TSP at different stages of your career. Most of the links to information were inoperative in the beta version, but it should be quite helpful once they are all operating
- Participant Support.
o One link was to contact the TSP, and there was no visible link for frequently asked questions. The fact that there was no FAQ link on the 1997 website could be explained away by the fact that the website was so old. There is no excuse for not having a FAQ link on a brand new site. I hope that the FAQ link was simply left off the beta version and will appear when the new website is introduced.
o One link was to forms and publications. Not everything was loaded on the beta versions, but I expect this is where we will have to research some of the more arcane TSP questions until a FAQ section appears.
TSP participants will welcome the new and updated website. If you want a chance to be asked to test drive the beta version, log on to your TSP account; when you log out, you might be asked to test the beta version. While you’re logged on to your account you might want to look at your account allocation and decide if it is time to re-allocate your investments by means of an interfund transfer.
When can we expect to see the new site? The beta site says the new site will be up in 2010. The Thrift Board has stated that they expect the rollout in May. When we get access to the new account, we will be entering the 21st century.