“Why in the world does it have to take so long to process retirements? OPM even has a document on their site ironically titled “OPM Retirement Quick Guide” that says it can take up to 5 months total to process and finalize your retirement. I retired from the Air Force 18 years ago, and everything was electronic and automated with that then. There was no delay and no issues with calculating. What’s wrong with the federal government that they can’t do the same?

Reg’s Response

Congratulations to your organization for doing such an effective job of processing retirement applications. That’s not a universal behavior. OPM handles retirement applications from hundreds of camps, posts and stations, as I used to say when I was in the Army. And OPM has no authority to make those who are slow, incompetent or using ancient (or no) technology do a better job. They can only exhort them to do so. And they do that on a regular basis. However, even when retirement applications come in from efficient organizations such as yours, there are often problems with them that can only be resolved through back-and-forth correspondence, which takes time. On top of all that, like most other organizations, OPM has been hit by COVID and flu, which thins their ranks and slows down processing times.

Got a question for the Federal Times expert? Send inquiries to: fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service, is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.

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