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TSP Outlines Time Frame for Lifecycle Fund Changes, Internal Improvements

By the end of next year, the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program will offer lifecycle funds in five-year increments.

Officials at the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program said Monday that the plan to provide participants with lifecycle funds that more closely reflect their expected retirement dates will come to fruition by the end of 2020.

In 2017, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers the Thrift Savings Plan, approved offering lifecycle funds in five-year increments, rather than the current 10 years. The funds are designed to shift toward more stable investments as participants get closer to retirement.

On Monday, TSP Chief Investment Officer Sean McCaffrey said officials are setting a target date of the third quarter of 2020 for implementing five-year L funds, to coincide with the L 2020 Fund being “retired” into the L Income Fund, which is designed for people who have already begun receiving annuities.

“It’s a much heavier lift than it looks like up here," he said. “We started this in earnest late last summer and early fall . . . Where we stand today is we’re reviewing the requirements with the contractor, and our next phase includes design, development and testing.”

With the changeover, in addition to the existing L 2030, L 2040 and L 2050 funds, TSP will offer L 2025, L 2035, L 2045, L 2055, L 2060 and L 2065 funds for participants. The move marks a shift toward products already offered by 401(k)s in the private sector.

TSP officials also outlined their ongoing work to shore up their processes to protect against fraud, cyber threats and other risks. Chief Risk Officer Jay Ahuja highlighted early efforts in a multi-year process to improve the agency’s information security posture, including the encryption of data while in transit to other agencies and partnering with the Homeland Security Department to implement a continuous diagnostics and mitigation program.

“For most of these risks we have, the solutions are not immediate,” Ahuja said. “There are multiple activities and tasks that have to happen on a multi-year basis. So you’re not necessarily going to see a change [in the risk assessment] within six months.”

Additionally, the agency is working on improving its IT infrastructure to ensure continuity of service in the event of a disaster, including the development of alternative data centers and eventual migration to the cloud. One area where the agency has been able to make swift progress has been on the risk of TSP fraud, Ahuja said.

“We already have done a number of remedial activities there, and gotten controls put in place,” he said. “Of particular importance was the introduction of two-factor authentication [for participants]. We’ve also seen the escalation reporting process at our call centers enhanced, provided greater training to the contact center, increased our manual mail hold functionality, and the ability for participants to elect for an account hold was implemented. There are a lot of other activities taking place, but we’re confident that this is on the right track.”

Tee Ramos, TSP director of participant services, said Monday that since two-factor authentication was implemented in April, more than 170,000 participants have opted into the security program.