One former fed's trials with TSP system

It will take three to four weeks before the new computer system for managing the Thrift Savings Plan is cleaned up, the chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board told lawmakers last month.

The problem is twofold: Conversion to the new system created a massive paperwork backlog, and unexpected system slowdowns lengthened the amount of time it takes to process paperwork and new transactions.

Nevertheless, federal officials testifying before the House Government Reform Committee said they stand behind contractor Matcom International Corp. and the system it developed.

The vendor and agency are correcting any technology glitches and whittling away at the paperwork backlog, chairman Andrew Saul said.

Speed is improving daily, and 'we believe this system is a good system,' he said.

About 170 bugs have been identified, but none are so troublesome that they are 'going to take the system down. As we eliminate them I think you are going to find everything speeds up,' Saul said.

Tom Wolf, 34, quit his Postal Service mail-sorting job May 22 after 10 years. But the start of his new job as a casino blackjack dealer was delayed five weeks. To save his West Allis, Wis., home from foreclosure, Wolf applied to withdraw his funds from the Thrift Savings Plan, the government's retirement savings plan, which is similar to a 401(k) plan.

At first, Wolf's withdrawal was delayed because TSP didn't receive notification of his resignation from USPS until June 18. Then Wolf was told he needed to fill out a new withdrawal form.

He still hasn't received notice about the form change, which TSP representatives said they mailed. Then he was told TSP had not received the new form he'd sent by certified mail.

On July 9, he was told TSP had received the paperwork, but Wolf is still waiting for his check. He has spent countless hours on the phone with TSP workers, each time getting different answers to his queries.

'It's been a little over two months now,' Wolf said July 25. 'Under the old system, it would've been done in 30 days. The way they've handled this situation has driven me absolutely bonkers.'

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