TSP executive director stepping down after 10 years

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), the agency that oversees and administers the Thrift Savings Plan, is losing its executive director of 10 years.

Greg Long announced his resignation as the agency’s leader at an April 24 board meeting, which will be his last.

“I have decided that after this 10-year period, it provides a reflection point for me, and I’ve decided that I’m going to move on and do something different,” he said. “I am going to resign, and I am looking forward to that next thing.”

Long didn’t specify his plans but said he’ll focus on getting his Master’s of Business Administration.

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His last day is May 5.

While the board conducts a national search for a new executive director, Ravindra Deo will take over as the interim director. He’s currently the agency’s chief investment officer and served as the FRTIB acting chief operating officer from May 2016 to February 2017.

Long has been with the FRTIB since 2006, when he served as the agency’s director of product development for the TSP. The board named him executive director one year later.

“You’ve set a great tone here at the TSP,” Michael Kennedy, chairman of the board, said of Long’s leadership. “You’ve created a very collaborative office and culture, and hopefully that will continue. We certainly applaud your service.”

Members of the board, as well as the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, also praised Long for his efforts in implementing automatic agency contributions, adding automatic enrollment for new participants and offering Roth TSP accounts and spousal benefit accounts.

“As an active member of the Employee Thrift Advisory Council, NARFE leaders have enjoyed working with Greg Long and we thank him for his eleven years of dedicated service to Thrift Savings Plan participants,” NARFE President Richard Thissen said in a statement. “We are disappointed to see him go but are grateful for his service.”

Long’s departure comes at a pivotal time for the agency. The FRTIB is knee-deep in its preparations to automatically enroll tens of thousands of new military members to the TSP by Jan. 1, 2018, among other major IT modernization and financial system upgrades.

Long called the agency’s efforts to implement “blended retirement” the biggest project the board has ever undertaken. More uniformed services members have been enrolling in the TSP month after month. In March, 46.4 percent of uniformed services members participated in the TSP.

And about 90 percent of employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) contributed toward their accounts in March, a major milestone for the TSP.

The TSP also saw $145 million in roll-ins last month, the highest volume in the plan’s history. Though March is often one of the busier months for roll-ins, the TSP received $40 million more in roll-ins last month compared to March 2016.

Meanwhile, the agency is also looking to the House to offer a companion bill to the TSP Modernization Act, which Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced earlier this month.

“A number of our participants are really starting to withdraw or think about their withdrawal options, and they are very frustrated by our current, statutory options,” said Kim Weaver, director of the external affairs for the FRTIB. “Members are very responsive to that. They understand that it’s an issue that directly impacts people.”

The bill would let federal retirees make multiple post-separation withdrawals from the TSP instead of the two currently allowed.

IT challenges

Implementing cybersecurity and IT updates and addressing overdue recommendations has long been a challenge for the FRTIB.

By the most recent count, 73 of the agency’s 105 open audit recommendations from the Labor Department are IT-related.

The FRTIB is in the middle of several IT modernization projects. It’s upgrading its mainframe, network, storage. servers and software applications, and the agency is also enhancing call center hardware and network equipment.

The agency recently implemented two-factor authentication for 585 FRTIB employees and Technology and Enterprise Support Services (TESS) contractors. It will soon bring two call and three processing centers under TESS management, said Renita Anderson, the agency’s new chief technology officer.

The agency will also soon begin the acquisition process to enhance their internal record keeping and financial systems. Both systems are more than 12 years and were custom built, said FRTIB Chief Financial Officer.

As it initially implements new financial systems, the board may need to hire additional personnel, which could be federal employees or contractors. But once the agency enhances its record keeping systems, its staffing needs will likely change again.

“By enhancing them, we will get rid of some of the manual processes, which will impact our staffing and our reconciliation process,” Crowder said.