TSP 30th Anniversary Logo

Our Story

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services. We are a defined contribution plan that offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. When the TSP received its first participant contributions in April 1987, we could hardly foresee that we would grow to have over 5 million participants and nearly $500 billion in assets. The TSP is now recognized as the largest defined contribution retirement plan in the world. For 30 years we have made it a priority to help each one of our participants make smart retirement choices and save for the retirement that’s right for them.

But that’s our story. What do you want your retirement story to be?

We asked ten participants to tell us what the TSP means to them. We wanted to know who they are, who they were, and how the TSP is helping them to retire with dignity. Each participant has a unique perspective of how the TSP is going to help them reach their retirement goals, but within each story are lessons about saving that we can all benefit from. Watch the videos below to learn from their stories.

President Reagan signing HR 2672 the Federal Employee's Retirement System Act of 1986
President Ronald Reagan signs the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act establishing the Thrift Savings Plan on June 6, 1986. Standing behind the President are, from left to right: U.S. Representative Pat Schroeder, U.S. Representative Frank Wolfe, U.S. Representative John Myers, U.S. Senator Bill Roth, Jamie Cowen, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, Joe Wright, Jim Miller. (Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library)

Participant Stories

asha b.2010

I would’ve had a better start, but I’ve caught up.

gregg y.2002

I really want to be able to give back to them.

sharon r.1987

Everything to have a great retirement.

darrell c. 1999

Pretty soon that turns into real money.

joseph s.1999

Live your life and have no worry in the world.

nancy r. 1989

The next opportunity I had, I started contributing.

michael m.2005

You just have to know where to put the friendship.

andrew and debbie n. 2013 and 2011

The L Funds seem the easiest way to diversify.

TSP Timeline: 30 Years at a Glance

June 1986

President Reagan signs the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act into law. This law introduces a new retirement system for federal employees, providing them with three different retirement sources: a Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).


April 1987

Participants begin contributing to the TSP, giving them the opportunity to save for a more secure retirement.


November 1994

The ThriftLine is established, giving participants the opportunity to perform certain account transactions and receive important TSP information over the phone.


May 1997

The TSP launches its website, tsp.gov, allowing it to share timely plan information.


July 2001

Participants are now permitted to transfer funds from their IRAs and other plans into the TSP to consolidate their retirement savings and enjoy more of what they save thanks to the TSP’s low fees.


January 2002

Uniformed services members begin contributing to the TSP, expanding their retirement savings options and helping them to save for retirement in a new way.


July 2005

Open season is eliminated, allowing participants to enroll in the TSP and change how they contribute to the TSP at any time throughout the year.


August 2005

The Lifecycle (L) Funds are introduced as an investment option. The L Funds offer a professionally designed easy way to invest for those who do not have the time, experience, or interest to manage their TSP investments.


June 2009

President Obama signs the Thrift Savings Plan Enhancement Act into law, creating the opportunity to implement additional benefits for TSP employees.


August 2010

Newly hired and rehired FERS and CSRS employees are automatically enrolled in the TSP, making it easier to save for retirement.


May 2012

Participants now have the ability to make Roth TSP contributions, giving them the additional choice of making after-tax contributions.


December 2013

The TSP joins Twitter @tsp4gov and is able to share important information with participants in a new way.


September 2016

The TSP launches its Facebook page, fb.com/tsp4gov, and engages with participants about retirement topics that matter to them.


April 2017

The TSP turns 30!

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