The recent TSP investor survey showed that significant percentages of federal employees are not taking full–or in many cases, any–advantage of the retirement savings opportunities the program offers.

Among active employees who responded to the survey, 18 percent of those under the CSRS retirement system are not investing at all, nor are 7 percent of FERS employees–across the entire workforce, both figures actually are somewhat higher. In both cases, almost exactly half said they invest more than 5 percent of pay.

Among FERS employees, another 29 percent invest exactly 5 percent of pay, meaning that eight-tenths are capturing the maximum employer contribution under that system (there is no employer contribution for CSRS employees, a main reason their participation rate is lower overall). Another 12 percent of FERS respondents are investing, but less than 5 percent of pay, meaning they are capturing only some of the available employer contribution.

Among those investing less than 5 percent, 60 percent said the reason is that they can’t afford to invest any more. But 14 percent of them said they didn’t know matching contributions are available. Twelve percent said they didn’t need to invest more to achieve their retirement income goals, and the rest said they save in other ways or have other reasons.