TSP system gears up for mid-June launch

The Thrift Savings Plan record-keeping system is entering the home stretch with a target go-live date in mid-June.

TSP project manager Larry Stiffler told the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board last week that the system is functioning well, and if parallel testing is successful, the old system will be shut down, ending a six-year saga of missed deadlines, cost overruns, changed requirements and contractor controversy.

'I'm more comfortable with the system than at any other time,' Stiffler said. 'I'm confident that April and May will provide enough parallel testing to fix any bugs that come up. If it isn't, we will continue to work on the system until it is ready.'

TSP's IT staff and contractor Materials, Communications and Computers Inc. of Alexandria, Va., put the system back on track about two years after the board fired original contractor American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va.

Ball in new court

The board sued AMS for $350 million in July 2001 after dropping the company as the contractor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is considering whether it should reinstate the suit after it was dismissed by a lower court.

The new system will replace a 15-year-old one that limits account updates to monthly edits and makes employees wait until the end of the month to process withdrawals, transfers, loan applications, payments and deposits. When the new system comes online, employees will be able to manage their accounts daily, and information will be updated nightly.

Stiffler said the project team will concentrate on the two remaining hurdles: fixing bugs and training the National Finance Center staff in New Orleans.

'Most problems have been fairly minor,' he said. 'There have been some problems in making sure all the error messages come up consistently and making sure data is viewed the same way on user screens as on customer service screens.'

Parallel testing began this month and should be finished by the end of May, Stiffler said.

The board will use the $21 million system to manage $102 billion in retirement assets for 2.9 million civilian and military employees.


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