Now, when I think about the new TSP website, I think about my favorite movie which is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Image: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

There are approximately six million Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) participants who are federal employees, active military, and federal retirees.   The new TSP website needed an overhaul, a fresh look.  Six months later, wait times have improved and the beneficiary module seems to be working properly.

I am a 35-year participant of the TSP.  I loved the old TSP website.  It was easy to maneuver through all the modules and menus.  I could find everything!  Over the many years of experience with the old TSP website, I did not discover any problems.

Now, when I think about the new TSP website, I think about my favorite movie which is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  During the past six months since the new TSP website has been established, this is what I have experienced as well as what my some of my clients have shared with me.

The June 2022 on hold times of sixty minutes to reach a representative has been reduced to a few minutes on hold.  The representatives are friendlier and eager to help you.  The website itself is appealing to look at with the enhanced colors for each category and the fonts are very large.  A significant 2022 policy change is that TSP now allows participants to continue paying their TSP loans after they terminate from federal service.

Yes, we needed more investment options but a very small percentage of participants take advantage of those investments because the associated fees are expensive.  The Thrift Savings board must have spent millions to change the website.  What is the cost benefit of upgrading the website?  I have not heard or read anywhere that that money was well spent.  I have read that the Government Accounting Office for Audit will be looking at the contract process and the details of the Accenture contract.

For the first time in 35 years, I called the 877 number for assistance.  I informed the representative that on the TSP website, I could not perform a Monthly Withdrawal Allotment.  Although the minimum withdrawal amount is 25 dollars per month, I could not select 1,000 dollars per month as my monthly withdrawal option to my bank. The representative said they would setup the withdrawal allotment for me but they could not get it to work. They said that it was not an Abraham Grungold profile issue but a system wide problem.  They put me on hold several times but they could not get an answer, they could not setup the withdrawal and, they did not know when it would be corrected.  My first attempt created questions of with why did I want to make a withdrawal.  It always amazes me how a bank or any other financial institution doesn’t ask why you are depositing money, they are only concerned with why are you taking it out.  My 2nd call regarding this issue led me to a representative who simply experimented with the number for a monthly withdrawal.  The minimum figure that would work for me would be a $4,250 monthly withdrawal.  They could not explain why this figure would have to be my minimum monthly withdrawal amount when they agreed that the minimum is 25 dollars.

Recently, I called the 877 number and I was informed that I cannot change or stop my monthly withdrawal online.  I have to first cancel my monthly withdrawal and I have to create a new monthly withdrawal.  The representative stated that it could take five days for the entire process.  Somehow, I cannot believe that five days would be enough time.

One of my clients told me that he wanted to repay his Cares Act Loan back to the TSP.  The TSP website did not have any information about the Cares Act Loans from the TSP nor about paying them back.  The TSP representatives did not know what a Cares Act Loan was nor could they help him.  Coincidentally, he had an interaction with a TSP board member and he addressed his problem and it was resolved a month later.  If my client never had a discussion with a TSP Board member, his problem would be unresolved even to this day.

I have no plans on leaving the TSP.  Time will tell how many participants will leave the TSP because of the many problems associated with the new TSP website.  I hope that 2023 will bring the TSP website to a level of performance that the prior one brought us.

Abraham Grungold is a retired federal employee with 36 years of federal service, and through his company AG Financial Services he helps federal employees with their TSP and federal retirement planning and decisions. Mr. Grungold has written over 40 articles regarding the TSP and FERS retirement and been a guest on several podcasts with the Federal News Radio and Government Executive Magazine.  

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