After a major update for the Thrift Savings Plan, officials from Accenture Federal Services (AFS) cited significant progress and pledged more improvements coming soon for participants.

Officials from AFS, the federal contractor that runs TSP’s new recordkeeping system, said many of the initially tumultuous problems during the transition last summer have subsided.

“The Converge program is emerging from an extended burn-in period, where we’ve been working through operating in a new environment and some of the kinks associated with that. We are now entering a new steady state and seeing a lot of progress,” said Elaine Beeman, a senior managing director at AFS, during the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board’s Feb. 28 meeting.

The “Converge” update touted a redesigned My Account platform, a virtual assistant, a new mobile app and expanded self-service options on the user end, along with better cybersecurity and enhanced data on the back end.

But TSP participants voiced major frustrations with the initial rollout of the program last June. They faced difficulties, for instance, logging in to the new platform and experienced hours-long hold times when trying to reach a representative at ThriftLine, TSP’s customer service center. Some of the frustrations extended beyond the launch of the update, too, with participants saying the new layout of My Account is clunky and difficult to navigate.

AFS officials said they have resolved some, though not all, of the new system’s challenges for TSP participants.

For example, many participants were frustrated with the limited historical account data that is readily available in My Account. In an effort to alleviate that concern, all statements from 2021 and 2022 will be online and available within the next couple of weeks, according to Owen Davies, a managing director at AFS. There are no plans, however, to add data to My Account going further than 10 years back. Participants must call ThriftLine to request that information.

Some TSP participants have also said it is cumbersome to try to locate their TSP investment summary in My Account. As a response, Davies said AFS adjusted the website’s homepage to make that information more readily available, but added that more changes are still coming.

“I think we have further room for improvement there, to get more direct access to, ‘Where my money is invested, how it’s performing’ — those sorts of things,” Davies said during the FRTIB meeting.

The AFS team has also tried to promote more participants’ use of new self-service tools, like the virtual assistant AVA, as well as features available in the TSP mobile app.

“We’ve done a specific campaign to get people to download the mobile app and start using that channel as access as well, and we’ve seen good response,” Davies said.

The mobile app currently has about 600,000 downloads, out of a total 3.4 million TSP accounts in the new system.

There are also improvements to the beneficiary designation process, Davies said, another early pain point for TSP participants following the update. Additionally, participants can now complete their TSP installments process entirely online.

Phone lines for TSP participants are in much better shape as well, according to Davies. Almost 80% of calls to ThriftLine are answered in less than 20 seconds, and the center currently has an 85% customer satisfaction rating.

“Our goal is 90%,” Davies said during the FRTIB meeting. “There are things we’re still going to do to tweak that, to get to that point.”

One effort from AFS underway aims to help participants who don’t get the result they wanted after calling ThriftLine the first time around. There is now a voicemail inbox specifically set up to field additional calls from participants. Those calls go to an internal team that researches the issue and returns the participant’s call to help them resolve a specific issue.

“We’re really seeing the uptake on that be very small,” Davies said. “We’re thinking about how we can promote that to prevent people from being dissatisfied or have to be a repeat caller. That’s something that underachieved what we expected, so we’re taking it back, we’re tuning that … maybe we need to make it easier, more automated.”

AFS officials added that they are trying to become more proactive in addressing callers’ concerns, particularly for repeat callers, but that those efforts are still “in the works,” Davies said. Customer service representatives will also start receiving more training to help staff better deal with more complicated TSP issues.

But despite improvements, many TSP participants have continued to voice frustrations about the new system. A required minimum distribution (RMD) systematic error, for instance, meant that many participants did not receive their 2022 RMD from TSP. The issue impacted roughly 2,400 individuals, or 19% of the 126,000 TSP users who had to take an RMD last year.

FRTIB Director of External Affairs Kim Weaver said the board is aware of the issue.

“This was a mistake based on an erroneous bad address indicator attached to those participants’ accounts,” Weaver said in an email to Federal News Network. “The TSP will be issuing these participants their 2022 RMD and sending them a letter explaining the mistake for use with the IRS to assist the participants in avoiding the penalty associated with not taking an RMD. We are sincerely sorry for this serious mistake.”

For other adjustments to the TSP, AFS officials said the work is not over and much of the focus going forward will be on “continuous improvements,” including in participant satisfaction and responsive participant support.

“We are looking to identify measures to increase overall satisfaction of participants, so it’s a continuous improvement, constant analysis of data, analysis of participant feedback,” Beeman said. “We are really thinking hard about how we can move the needle on an ongoing basis, and anticipate and fix those things. [For] things that are long-duration and painful, we’re trying to reduce those cases — reduce cases being established, close them out faster and just move forward to resolution for folks with less pain.”