2010 and Beyond: TSP auto enrollment seen as huge success

Monday - 12/20/2010, 5:46pm EST

Tom Trabucco, Director of External Affairs, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

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The big story of 2010 for your Thrift Savings Plan was the introduction of automatic enrollment, said Tom Trabucco, director of external affairs at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

The program automatically enrolls new federal employees in the G Fund at 3 percent. This opt-out -- opposed to opt-in -- program started in August 2010 and has increased overall enrollment in TSP by nearly 1 percent, Trabucco told the DorobekINSIDER.

"When you're running at about 4.4 million people, 1 percent is a pretty big number," Trabucco said.

He added, "The number continues to grow. We are going to close up a gap in participation through that program."

Trabucco said currently participation is at 83.5 percent of FERS employees. He said he expects participation to grow to the high-eighty percentage in the next five to ten years.

Other improvements
The Thrift Savings Plan Enhancement Act of 2009 led to other big TSP improvements in 2010.

One change is the implementation of immediate employer contributions. Before this year, federal employees had to wait 6-8 months for employer contributions to begin. That policy had been in place for 22 years, Trabucco said.

Efforts to start immediate employer contributions were underway in the 1990s, but the $1.1 billion cost delayed passage of the measure until last year, he said.

The TSP act also made way for spousal TSP accounts. Before the change, surviving spouses of federal workers could not leave money in the TSP.

Trabucco said another highlight of 2010 for TSP was the new website, what he called a "huge undertaking."

"It will give us great capabilities that we have not had in the past," Trabucco said.

What do you think was the biggest story of 2010? Take our poll!

Click here to see all the stories in the '2010 and Beyond' series.