TSP Website: What Was Changed and What Went Wrong?
Most readers know the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) introduced a new website in June 2022. The latest event with regard to this is an interim statement from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) summarized below.
The changes to the TSP website were more than just a website refresh. The changes included overhauling almost everything behind the TSP’s platform and its underlying technology. The premise behind the changes was to ensure the TSP system was positioned for future changes.
The changes included replacing FRTIB’s core record-keeping system, re-platforming the TSP customer service contact center technology, re-platforming the “My Account” and the TSP Agency/Payroll portal, and introducing more online services, features, and security standards.
After it became obvious the roll-out of the new website was not a smooth introduction, Accenture Federal Services (AFS) provided a report to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB). The FRTIB oversees the operation of the TSP. The apology concerned the operation of the TSP website since the June rollout of the new platform and features.
AFS apologized to the TSP board members and plan participants and admitted that the problems with the rollout tarnished the TSP brand. AFS also said it was not up to their standards and that TSP participants did not deserve the problems they experienced.
GAO Report on TSP Website Problems Expected in 2024
On August 3, 2022, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed to investigate the problems with the website in response to Congressional requests for them to do so.
TSP investors hoping for quick action by the GAO will be disappointed. In August 2022, GAO wrote:
GAO accepts your request as work that is within the scope of its authority. At the current time we anticipate that staff with the required skills will be available to initiate an engagement in about three months.
What is the status of the GAO investigation? On March 7, 2023, GAO issued a statement on the TSP investigation that said “our work is now underway.” That is good news but the timeline will not make many TSP investors happy. The latest GAO statement reads:
To address Congress’ request and federal employees’ concerns, we plan to review the federal government’s actions to purchase, launch, and oversee the commercial services contract for the new modernized TSP system. Among other things, contract oversight involves clearly communicating government needs, matching resources to those needs, and monitoring the performance of the purchased service or product. Having contract oversight ensures that services and products are working as intended and any identified issues are mitigated. Look out for our report on TSP, coming early next year. (emphasis supplied)
So, with any luck, GAO will issue its findings and recommendations on the TSP website issues in 2024, perhaps in the first quarter of the year.
Where to Go for Help With TSP Website
The latest GAO issuance on this topic says that the agency is concerned about TSP website users not knowing where to go for help. It offered this advice:
Here is the contact information GAO suggests for those experiencing problems:
- Issues with accessing TSP accounts or completing transactions: call the ThriftLine at (877) 968-3778.
- Needing additional help resolving an issue also can call: (888) 626-5206
- Needing to report fraud, waste, and abuse in federal programs: contact FraudNet via the Complaint Form or call (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7700.
Latest Update on TSP Website Issues
On February 28, the website and its implementation issues were still a major topic of discussion at the meeting. At the meeting, AFS provided another report on how the remaining issues with the site are being handled. The article TSP Website: Status on Improving Performance and Investor Satisfaction summarizes the most recent presentation to the FRTIB.
At that meeting, AFS cited these steps to improve TSP investor’s experience with the website:
- Addressing issues with minimum installment payment amounts and withholdings discrepancies using the self-service features
- Enhancing online self-service features for installments, withdrawals and loans
- Online statements from 2021 and 2022 will be available in mid-March
- The ability of website users to change their pin will be made easier
- Adding more comprehensive year-end reporting features
- Easier access to seeing where an investor’s money is invested
- Improving ThriftLine representatives’ access to additional information to respond to investor queries
- Improving the Virtual Agent’s ability to provide status updates and to guide participants through completing personalized actions
Obviously, the issues with the TSP website are not fully resolved. The impact of the GAO investigation will certainly be mitigated by the lag between its acceptance of the investigation in August 2022 and the possible issuance of the final report early in 2024. TSP investors will find out if the GAO investigation will still be relevant after it is issued.
In the meantime, there is no doubt the FRTIB will continue to deal with the issues and complaints on the updated website—even as some or many of the issues are resolved.