MatCom has TSP system on track

After another company was fired from the project, Materials, Communication and Computers Inc. will deliver the modernized Thrift Savings Plan recordkeeping system on schedule and within budget. The system will be ready in July for testing and an official launch Sept. 16.

The new system will offer plan participants an array of improved services, including daily transaction processing, the ability to have loan or withdrawal payments deposited electronically into checking or savings accounts, and a range of interactive services on the plan's Web site, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board announced May 17.

"The big benefits of the new system, from the standpoint of participants, are not only the improved options for the deposit of loans and withdrawals but also having disbursement made more often, throughout the month rather than monthly," said Tom Trabucco, spokesman for the board. "From the agency's perspective, the new system will spread the workload out more evenly."

In 1997, the board hired American Management Systems Inc. to modernize the plan's computer system. The new recordkeeping system was to go online in May 2000 at a cost of $30 million. By the beginning of 2001, however, the operational date for the system had been pushed back at least four times. By that time, AMS was estimating the final cost at nearly $90 million, according to the board.

The board fired AMS July 17, 2001, and a few days later hired MatCom of Alexandria, Va., to complete the project. Matcom brought together a team that includes the Centech Group Inc., Computer Sciences Corp., Keane Federal Systems Inc., Savantage Financial Services Inc. and SunGard.

After the board fired AMS, it filed suit in federal district court seeking $350 million in damages. The district court threw out the lawsuit in December 2001, saying the board didn't have the right to sue on its own behalf, but the board has appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Thrift Savings Plan is the federal government's equivalent of a 401(k) retirement savings plan. As of April 20, 2002, the plan fund balances totaled about $102 billion, and nearly 2.9 million federal civilian employees and uniformed services members held accounts.

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