Letters to the editor

Following are responses sent to tsp@fcw.com from readers commenting on the Thrift Savings Plan online services launched June 16. These comments were received June 23. More comments will be posted in the coming days.

Only in the government do we seem to ignore the mantra: "If it's not broken, don't fix it."

After all this time of being able to use the TSP semi-automated "old" system, then being deluged with information on all the advantages I will have with the "new" one, I am not surprised to find it does not work at all now. The only thing I have been able to do is read my account balances since this revolutionary change took place — EVEN ON THE WEEKEND!

I used the TSP Web site before this "event," and I have tried to use it afterward. I've worked for the government for 29 years and still the malfunctions never cease to amaze me.

Nancy Nolan
Labor Department


Lawrence Stiffler, the TSP board's director of automated systems, commented that he couldn't explain why they "were getting an inordinate amount of people checking on loans" ["Feds' savings site a big hit and miss"], and fellow FCW reader Leonard Harper wrote that he didn't see "what the fuss is all about" when people couldn't access their information ["Blowing off steam"].

Maybe I can shed a little light on both — RECORD LOW MORTGAGE RATES.

I, like so many others, am in the midst of refinancing my home in order to take advantage of the low rates. I needed information more current than my last TSP loan statement, and was very frustrated that I could not even get to the log-in page, much less access my loan information.

Late Sunday night, I was finally able to access the loan page. Unfortunately, it doesn't contain any identifying information, such as my name, to make sending a printout of the page to my mortgage officer worthwhile.

Martha Pogue
Federal Highway Administration


I'm very disappointed that the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board settled for $5 million when they had sued for $350 million ["TSP suit against AMS settled"]. How much was AMS paid, given that "Basically everything that AMS did ended up in the trash"?

The new system appears to be headed in the right direction. We'll need to give it some time to settle in.

Edward Courlang
State Department


Unbelievable! Will $5 million even cover the legal expenses we have incurred? I wonder if the board members have their retirements tied up in the TSP? If they did, maybe they would make better decisions.

I don't think the board should have the authority to waste our money and put our futures in jeopardy. The article states that everything AMS did had to be thrown away. So why did we pay $60 million for something we could not use?

I have been a fed for about four years now. Between the market decline and absorbing the costs for this fiasco, my hope for a good retirement is diminishing.

Frank Ellison
Energy Department


I believe that AMS got off very lightly, partially because the Justice Department would not back TSP. My past experiences with AMS were extremely frustrating. I have used their financial systems, which were maintained by one key individual, without any backup. Each version amounted to almost a virtual rewrite of tables and code.

I frankly would disqualify AMS from contracting with the federal government until their procedures and corporate policy is certified and accredited similar to what the Office of Management and Budget is doing with the Government Information Security Reform Act of 2000.

Jack Richards
Just-retired FBI IT security manager


Although the system is greatly improved, one thing that still bothers me as an investor is the unavailability of stating the cost bases of the shares in my account. This cannot be done manually because TSP investors have no historical data reflecting shares owned during prior statement periods.

Jerry Fediw
Army headquarters


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Please check out the archive of Letters to the Editor for fellow readers' comments.


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