The National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association last week applauded language in the House Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023 to ensure greater transparency regarding the operations of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Retirement Services division.
In April, NARFE wrote a letter to the House appropriations committee expressing concerns “about significant retirement processing delays and the inability of annuitants and their families to connect with OPM (via phone, email or other method) to receive needed assistance.”
“Our members have notified us that they have experienced lengthy delays receiving their survivor benefits, updating their health insurance benefits and requesting other changes from OPM; these delays are negatively affecting their retirement security,” NARFE wrote.
NARFE released a statement supporting the new language in the 2023 appropriations bill which advanced in the House on June 24:
“We are heartened that House appropriators share our concerns and included report language to focus heightened oversight and request increased transparency into processing delays and call center responsiveness from OPM Retirement Services. We hope this increased attention will elevate the urgency of the administration’s efforts to solve these problems.”
“While processing issues and call wait times have been longstanding problems, reports from our members suggest they are getting worse, not better, as of late. And reports of extensive waits for survivor annuities is a recent development that causes acute financial distress at the worst of times.”
“We understand OPM may be struggling with pandemic-related disruptions and that there are dedicated public servants at OPM RS who recognize the problems. But they must prevent the situation from deteriorating further and start making real progress to improve and modernize their processes to better serve those who spent careers serving their nation.”
In a press conference last week, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said she has a focus on improving the agency’s retirement services including the current pilot of an online application for federal employees planning to retire.