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Federal Pensions: DOL Oversight and Thrift Savings Plan Accountability

GAO-03-400 Published: Apr 23, 2003. Publicly Released: May 15, 2003.
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The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees, governed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (the TSP Board). Recent events relating to the TSP Board's contract to upgrade TSP's record keeping system have raised questions about the management of the TSP. In light of the TSP Board's actions relating to the record keeping system and the recent submission of the TSP Board's legislative proposal that would enhance its independence, Congressional requesters asked us to examine federal oversight of the TSP Board. Specifically, our objectives were to (1) describe the Department of Labor's (DOL) oversight authority, under the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 (FERSA) and (2) determine the actions DOL has taken in exercising its authority over TSP.


Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
To strengthen DOL oversight and to increase accountability of the TSP Board, Congress may wish to consider amending FERSA to require DOL to establish a formal process by which the Secretary of Labor can report to the Congress issues of critical concern about actions of the Executive Director and TSP Board members.
Closed – Implemented
Congress has considered amending FERSA and investigated ways to strengthen oversight and accountability of the TSP Board. In 2004, the Subcommittee on Financial Management, the Budget, and International Security, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held a hearing on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board's (FRTIB) management of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). In April 2006, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held hearings on the TSP and considered these issues. Considering this recommendation, members raised concerns about the adequacy of the current oversight structure of TSP and asked GAO to analyze FERSA and identify alternative models of oversight and improvements in the TSP Board to help the Committee determine the most appropriate ways to improve oversight. We recently issued "Oversight of Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and Thrift Savings Plan (GAO-07-611), which the committee found very helpful and will use in its deliberations and continued monitoring of the FRTIB and TSP Board.

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Civil service pensionsFederal employee retirement programsFederal employees retirement systemFinancial managementPensionsRecords managementReporting requirementsGovernment retirement benefitsThrift savings planFederal employees