OPM Director Katherine Archuleta reports significant improvements to claims processing backlog. (Mike Morones/Staff)
The Office of Personnel Management is working to reduce its pension processing backlog while slowly transitioning to digital records, according to agency chief Katherine Archuleta.
She said in a March 24 blog post the agency has made ‘significant improvements’ speeding up pension processing over the last year and the backlog of claims was reduced 71 percent from January 2012 to September 2013.
The average time to process a new retirement claim was 61 days — down from 91 days in July of 2013 and 156 days in December of 2011, according to Archuleta.
“Process improvements achieved through the hard work of our RS employees and strategic efforts have allowed for this reduction in inventor,” Archuleta said.
The post comes as the backlog of pending pension claims at OPM continued to grow in February, fueled by higher-than-expected retirement applications, according to numbers released March 6.
The Office of Personnel Management received 12,025 retirement claims in February — nearly 23 percent more than the projected 9,800. That drove the backlog up to 23,554 — higher than it has been since August, 2013.
The agency processed 9,767 claims in February, slight higher than the 9,400 OPM expected to process.
The agency had gradually been able to make inroads into its pension backlog before reaching a low in December at about 12,637. But that number has nearly doubled over the last two months.
Archuleta said the agency has also begun a transition to a digital processing system and that all new employee data is maintained electronically. The agency is also expanding its Retirement Case Management System in 2014 to make it easier to process retirement applications.
“We will continue to make every effort to provide the excellent and timely service that our world class federal workforce deserves,” Archuleta said.