What TSP participants want

Tuesday - 4/28/2009, 12:43pm EDT

Tom Traubucco

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By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio

TSP participants want a Roth IRA option, a mutual fund window and inherited accounts for spouses, according to a recent survey conducted by the Thrift Savings Plan Board.

Tom Trabucco, Director of External Affairs for the TSP, says the survey was conducted late last year and the Board has been examining the results since February.

Now, those results are posted online.

"What we're trying to do is build a longitudinal record of attitudes of employees toward the plan to get a better sense of needs and attitudes, understanding and satisfaction with the TSP."

For example, Trabucco notes that the TSP has consistently ranked high in the Office of Personnel Management's annual survey of federal employee benefits, but he says the Board wanted to dig deeper.

"This is our third in this series of surveys to try to build [a] base so that we can track and, hopefully at some point, anticipate what employees are looking for or thinking about in terms of the TSP."

The Board sends questionnaires to randomly selected CSRS, FERS and uniformed service federal employees. Trabucco says about 7,000 people returned the survey.

According to the data, two out of five respondents support adding a self-directed mutual fund window, which FederalNewsRadio has asked Trabucco about before.

"My sense is that this is really something that is attractive for the folks who want to move away a little bit from the five core investments -- our C, S, I, F and G funds -- but who aren't among the 600,000 who have looked at our L funds and decided that that's the way to go. These are people who want to have a little bit more control."

All of the data collected will guide the TSP Board as it decides to move forward, Trabucco says. He also expects the shared information on the Web to generate more feedback from participants.

"It becomes kind of a living thing where we're going forward and trying to satisfy the needs and desires of participants and blend them with things that are occuring in private sector plans; for instance, this mutual fund window is something that is starting to appear out there in private plans."

Trabucco says the last two surveys occurred in 2005 and 2006.

He adds there is also a plan to conduct another survey in 2010.

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