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GAO calls out OPM for poor retirement application management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is responsible for managing the retirement applications for federal employees. The agency receives an average of 100,000 applications annually. Although managing these requests is a major undertaking, the agency has failed to meet even its own goals.

What were the OPM’s goals?

The OPM had stated it would process retirement applications within 60 days of receipt. Unfortunately, the agency failed to meet this goal and had been accumulating a mounting backlog. The most recent count shows the agency is behind by 17,228 applications.

Why the backlog?

The agency states the issue is the result of reliance on manual processing instead of using software and other technological advances. The OPM also points to a lack of adequate staffing and problems with the applications to further explain the backlog.

What can the OPM do to address this problem?

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reviewed the OPM’s approach to retirement application management and provided some suggestions. These suggestions include:

  • Modernization plan. The GAO calls on the Associate Director of OPM’s Retirement Services to put together a modernization plan.  
  • Enhanced management practices. The agency also calls on the OPM to revamp its management practices to better address processing timelines and allocate resources to help address any deficiencies.
  • Increased collaboration. The GAO also pushed the OPM to work with other agencies to discuss cost-effective ways to address problems with applications.

The OPM partially agreed with the GAO’s recommendations. As a result, it will likely attempt to implement the majority of these suggestions.

However, the agency does not have a good track record. As noted above, it failed to meet its goals in the past. Federal employees that are fighting for their retirement benefits have options. An attorney experienced in dealing with the OPM can help.

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