Federal employees and retirees have reported problems with setting up new accounts for online access to the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program, and the agency’s call center has been deluged.
Officials with the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program promised a variety of new features and improved functionality would accompany the Thrift Savings Plan’s transition to a new recordkeeper when it launched June 1. But for many participants, simply getting online has been headache inducing.
The new recordkeeper features a streamlined user dashboard with new information on participants’ investments, a mobile app, the ability to sign documents and submit rollover checks electronically, a new virtual assistant, as well as access to around 5,000 new investments options in the form of the mutual fund window.
But participants first must set up a new login to access their account online, which due to some reported early bugs, has been difficult, if not impossible, for some. Some participants reported to Government Executive that they eventually were shuffled into being mailed a one-time passcode via the U.S. Postal Service to set up their new account, which, combined with the partial TSP.gov outage, mean some could be without online access to their TSP accounts for weeks.
Difficulties with the new website features has led to unprecedented call volumes and hold times at the TSP’s ThriftLine call center. TSP Spokeswoman Kim Weaver said the agency received more than 120,000 phone calls on June 1, a figure that marks a 250% increase over the previous all-time high.
Weaver said that although the “core functionality” of the new system is running well, she apologized for the issues surrounding the new account setup and other early customer-facing bugs.
“We are very sorry for the frustration and delay some participants are experiencing and we are working urgently to address these issues,” she said.
Overall, as of Sunday, around 86% of participants who have attempted to set up their new login have completed the process, while 3%, or around 10,000 participants, are in the process of having a one-time passcode mailed to their home address. But Weaver said as of Tuesday, those users can come back and try the online process again.
“Beginning Tuesday, June 7, participants who elect to have a one-time passcode mailed to them but later change their mind, will be able to return to the site to attempt the online account setup process,” she said.
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