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Update on OPM Retirement Claims Backlog

backlog

The Office of Personnel Management Inspector General released a report that shows OPM has work to do in meeting its goals for keeping down its backlog of retirement applications. The agency has said it has a goal of improving “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.”

Here is what the IG had to say of OPM’s efforts:

“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 FY2018, with an average processing time of 59 days, its claims backlog as of September 2018 was 17,628, more than 4.5% higher than at the same time a year ago. In addressing the average call answering time, Retirement Services stated that an average time to answer calls in FY2017 was 9.7 minutes, but it increased to 12 minutes in FY2018, more than double the strategic plan goal of 5 minutes or less. Again, no data was provided to 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 design, 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 online 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.”

This has been an ongoing battle for OPM, so we’ll see if the new year brings changes.