Federal retirement system delays mount

The new Thrift Savings Plan recordkeeping system won't be up and running until some time next year, further delaying the rollout of advanced features designed to modernize the program.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board manages the TSP, which is the government's version of a 401(k) savings plan. In May 1997, the board awarded a contract to American Management Systems Inc. to build a new TSP recordkeeping system, but rollout of the system has been delayed several times — most recently last summer — in order to fix software bugs.

As of Jan. 24, the percentage of software tests producing successful results had increased to 70 percent. This falls short of the revised AMS projections, made in November, of a 77 percent pass rate, according to the board.

Almost 11,000 bugs — more than expected — have been found during systems testing to date, and more than 2,600 are still unresolved.

TSP participants will have to wait until some time next year for the new recordkeeping system, according to a retirement board spokesman. He would not give a definitive date.

Last June, retirement board officials said the system would be delayed, but they would not say when the new system would be ready for operation.

When the new system is up and running, TSP participants will have access to new features, including:

Daily account valuations. Daily transaction processing. Quarterly participant statements. Electronic deposit of a loan or withdrawal that's not going to an IRA. Ability to repay part of a loan. Use of Web to begin and in some cases complete, a loan request In the meantime, the board will beef up its existing system to comply with recent legislation, including a law that allows military participants to join the TSP starting in October, and to comply with earlier promises such as the addition of the Small Capitalization Stock Index Investment (S) Fund and the International Stock Index Investment (I) Fund starting in May.

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