Survey: TSP participants satisfied with plan
The first survey of Thrift Savings Plan participants in more than 15 years is complete, and TSP officials gave a glimpse of the results at their monthly board meeting Monday.
The TSP, a federal employee 401(k)-style retirement savings plan worth more than $200 billion, is run by a board of presidentially appointed financiers and a staff of career employees. The board, which has been encouraged by the Government Accountability Office to solicit more feedback, hired consulting firm Watson Wyatt to survey 20,000 TSP participants on their satisfaction with issues ranging from customer service to automatic enrollment in the program.
Greg Long, director of product development for TSP, said nearly 20 percent of participants responded to the survey, which was sent by mail so as not to exclude investors without Internet access. That rate is enough to glean broad data, but not enough to compare answers among subgroups, such as age ranges. Long said he will issue the first round of results in January and provide another round in the spring, after soliciting more responses.
In summarizing the first set of findings, Long said only 3 percent of participants surveyed were dissatisfied overall with the TSP.
Just 17 percent of participants surveyed preferred or strongly preferred the G Fund, which invests in ultra-safe government securities, as the default for participants who neglect to make their own fund selections. The G Fund is the current default.
Twenty-two percent of participants strongly preferred and 27 percent preferred the life-cycle funds, which are mixes of the basic TSP funds that automatically shift toward more conservative blends as participants age, as the default option.
TSP Executive Director Gary Amelio and many of the board members have supported switching the default to the L funds, and they may ask for legislation to do so in 2007.
Almost 418,000 participants, out of 3.6 million, have put about $16 billion into the L funds since their inception in August 2005.
The survey comes after GAO issued a report in early 2005 encouraging a more systematic evaluation of the quality of TSP's customer service operation.
Also at the meeting Monday, Amelio and the board discussed rumors, published in the Wall Street Journal and by the BBC, that the Bank of America wants to buy Barclays, which manages the TSP funds. Amelio said he contacted Barclays officials, but they had no comment.
"It's something to watch," Amelio said.