The Office of Personnel Management’s Inspector General said in a report earlier this month that OPM needs to make improvements in order to meet its strategic plan in processing retirement applications for federal employees.
The timely issuance of annuitants’ payments remains a challenge for OPM, especially coordinating retirement benefits between OPM and other agencies for disability benefits and workers compensation.
In January 2012, OPM’s Retirement Services released and began implementation of its strategic plan with the goal of adjudicating 90 percent of retirement cases within 60 days beginning in July 2013. According to the OIG report, OPM believes that this “challenge is now outdated” and references the new new strategic goal is to “[i]mprove retirement services by reducing the average time to answer calls to 5 minutes or less and achieve an average case processing time of 60 days or less.”
- How to Deal With OPM’s Delay in Retirement Application Processing
- How to Submit a Healthy Federal Retirement Application Package
The OIG stated the following in their Nov. 5 report:
OPM appears to remain focused on its internal process improvements and external outreach towards other Federal agencies to meet their goal. However, while Retirement Services appears to have met its average case processing goal for FY 2018, with an average processing time of 59 days, its claims backlog as of September 2018 was 17,628, more than 4.5 percent higher than at the same time a year ago. In addressing the average call answering time, Retirement Services stated that the average time to answer calls in FY 2017 was 9.7 minutes, but it increased to 12 minutes in FY 2018, more than double the strategic plan goal of 5 minutes or less. Again, no data was provided to support Retirement Services’ average time to answer calls.
In order to alleviate the excessive busy signals and long wait times, Retirement Services provided more automated services via Services-On-Line, a redesign which went live on June 10, 2018, featuring a new technology stack with responsive design that is compatible with any hand held device, and provides a more customer friendly experience and efficient processing of transactions.
In continuing its efforts, Retirement Services plans to:
- Continue to integrate improvements for correspondence and claims processing;
- Enhance reporting tools to monitor and address Retirement Services workloads;
- Utilize overtime to assist with timely processing;
- Work with the OCIO to investigate technological capabilities to help improve processing time and reduce wait times;
- Continue to provide Federal retirement policy technical assistance to all OPM offices and Congress;
- Perform on-going audits of agency submissions;
- Provide monthly feedback to agencies and payroll offices and alert them of trends and improvement opportunities; and
- Identify training needs for agencies, develop job aids and on-line training modules, and conduct workshops on the retirement application process.
OPM must continue to work to obtain the necessary resources to ensure that the needs of its customers and stakeholders are met.
October 2018 Retirement Application Processing
In October, OPM’s backlog of processing retirement applications increased by about 12% reaching over 19,729. The average processing time was 63 days.