Federal Retirement:

Records Processing Is Better; Can Be Further Improved

GGD-86-47: Published: May 15, 1986. Publicly Released: May 15, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO identified methods the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could use to streamline the processing of civil service retirement documents and reduce the backlogs.

GAO noted that OPM: (1) was not effectively using its automated equipment; and (2) did not assign and organize its personnel for maximum productivity. GAO found that OPM employees: (1) reviewed each retirement document several times more than necessary; (2) processed documents manually rather than by computerized systems; (3) unnecessarily processed documents at two locations; and (4) delayed processing applications from federal employees who wanted to make their retirement contributions early, resulting in a loss of income to the government.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM will design an entirely new work flow rather than simply automating the existing manual procedures, and will eliminate unnecessary processing steps.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should ensure that unnecessary processing steps are eliminated during implementation of the automated system for processing changes to the master annuity file.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM eliminated several processing steps in handling health insurance changes, resulting in a decrease in the number of unprocessed changes.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should revise procedures for processing health insurance changes to eliminate unnecessary work and obtain maximum benefit from the health insurance change system.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The number of case files transported between Boyers and Washington decreased significantly. The exact cause is unknown.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should minimize the number of case files that need to be transported between Boyers and Washington, D.C.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM established a schedule under which all retirement processing functions will undergo efficiency reviews over the next 4 years.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should, as part of the President's Productivity Improvement Program, analyze all OPM retirement processing operations for opportunities to increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve service.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM is implementing the Post Adjudication Support System which includes automated annuity payment histories.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should automate the process of generating annuity payment histories.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As an alternative, OPM is implementing a procedure where the initiation of special payments at Boyers is eliminated, and applications proceed to final adjudication in Washington, D.C.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should revise the processing of survivor benefit applications and insurance cases to allow staff at its records storage facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania to make final decisions and minimize the number of files that are transported between Boyers and headquarters.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM developed a new process framework for the refund file system and the service credit system, and new systems are being developed by OPM automated systems staff.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should implement automated case-control systems for more efficient processing of refund applications and service credit applications.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OPM allocated additional resources to the service credit operation, thereby increasing production and decreasing the amount of interest lost to the fund.

    Recommendation: The Director, OPM, should regularly assign staff to process service credit applications in order to eliminate delays and enable the retirement fund to increase earnings.

    Agency Affected: Office of Personnel Management

 

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