OPM Nominee: Fixing Retirement Claims Process Is a Top Priority

Katherine Archuleta Katherine Archuleta Flickr user Bernard Pollack

President Obama’s nominee to lead the Office of Personnel Management vowed Tuesday to improve the retirement claims process by making information technology a top priority.

Katherine Archuleta said the agency “fell short” in previous attempts to switch from a paper-based system to a digital one. “Identifying new IT leadership, using existing agency expertise, and seeking advice from experts from inside government and the private sector, I believe that OPM can successfully update its IT systems,” Archuleta told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during her confirmation hearing.

OPM has struggled for decades to expedite retirement payments to federal retirees and eliminate the claims backlog. Many federal retirees have waited months and years to receive their full retirement benefits. The agency has made sustained progress during the past year to reduce the backlog, but sequestration -- which forced the agency to ban overtime for retirement services employees and the office to reduce its call center hours -- has slowed its momentum. The pile of incomplete claims stood at 25,542 in June, a reduction of 2.5 percent, compared to May. The agency estimated that the backlog would be at 16,078 claims at the end of June.

Archuleta, a former chief of staff at the Labor and Transportation departments, also said she would hire a chief technology officer “specifically focused on assessing and improving the technology products that OPM uses.” She also told the committee she would create an IT modernization plan in her first 100 days as director.

Lawmakers quizzed Archuleta on a range of topics including OPM’s role in implementing the Affordable Care Act, improving the security clearance process, and assessing the cost of official time used by federal employees participating in union activities.

Archuleta said she would draw on the expertise of OPM officials to stand up the multi-state plan program under the health care reform law -- arguably one of the agency’s most pressing tasks at the moment. Under the 2010 law, OPM is responsible for administering multiple state health plans on the insurance exchange network created by the law. The initial open enrollment for plans offered through the exchanges starts Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage beginning in January 2014. OPM will negotiate premiums and benefits with insurance providers who participate in the multi-state plans on the exchanges, similar to the agency’s administration of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which provides health care benefits to 8.2 million federal employees, retirees and their dependents.

The Senate is expected to swiftly confirm Archuleta as OPM director.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.