“The purpose really is to make sure that we in the Thrift Savings Plan never get too comfortable with your money, and that there’s always somebody looking over our shoulder and that we’re living in a fish bowl. That kind of transparency is what breeds confidence in the program.”
He said that it’s always been this way — Congress set up the program to be regularly audited by a variety of different firms. He added that, by his last count, over 200 audits of the TSP had been completed since the program began in the 1980s.
“Different requirements in the law is what these spring from. First of all, there’s a requirement for the Executive Director to engage an auditor for an annual financial audit of all of the income and outflows from the Board . . . during the course of a year so that we can go through and everybody can agree on all of those numbers.”
Clifton Gunderson LLP is the firm that currently handles that audit for the TSP. Their 2009 Independent Auditors Report was ‘clean’, which means the firm is satisfied that all financial statements are presented to investors fairly.
Overall, the Board gets audited by a number of different firms for a number of different reasons to make sure everything is running smoothly.
“There are a lot of moving parts in this agency that would not be looked at if you just focusing on the financials. For instance, we run a loan program. We run interfund transfer activity. There are people who are making choices on contribution allocations and how those should be made.”
The audits aren’t simply done by private sector firms, either. Trabucco explained that there is a specific office in the Department of Labor that looks at how the TSP operates.
The audits aren’t simply about money, though. The TSP is also examined to see how well it holds up to cyber attacks.
“In a world that changes as quickly as this one does where people demand fast action, but also require security for all of the information that’s passing back and forth, either through the ether or over the wires or however it’s transmitted, you have to make sure that you’re doing it in a safe environment.”
Trabucco said the cost of the audits is included in participants’ regular TSP fees.
The TSP makes all of the minutes of its meetings — and its audits — public at this site: http://frtib.gov.