New TSP system goes live

Thrift Savings Plan

The long-awaited online computer system for the federal Thrift Savings Plan was scheduled to go live today at noon.

With the new system, transactions for the government's retirement savings plan are processed every business day. The 3 million plan participants can make changes in their accounts via the plan's Web site, www.tsp.gov.

The announcement came at a meeting of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the plan. "This is an enormous feat," said Andrew Saul, chairman of the board. But he hastened to lower any unrealistic expectations, saying, "With a new system, there are going to be hiccups, there are going to be problems."

Board officials said they anticipated a rush to try out the new system, which replaced an antiquated mainframe system and had been in development since 1997.

Lawrence Stiffler, director of automated systems for the board, said the server's capacity was increased so it could handle a massive volume of transactions, but he acknowledged that the system might be unavailable temporarily if too many users decide to try it out simultaneously during the first few days.

The development of the new system began in 1997 when the board awarded a contract to American Management Systems Inc. (AMS) of Fairfax, Va. The board terminated AMS' contract in 2001 after the board determined that progress was insufficient.

The board and AMS are now engaged in litigation over the termination.

A new contractor, Materials, Communications and Computers Inc., completed the system in about two years.

Requests for loans and withdrawals that were pending after the end of the last filing period will be processed overnight and will appear online tomorrow, officials said. A few might have to be resubmitted, officials said.

TSP REACTION?

What do you think about the updated TSP services? Are you planning to make changes to your account now that it's faster and easier? Have you tried to use the web services?

Click here to e-mail your comments.

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