However, the pace of federal retirements appears more modest this year compared to last. All told, some 36,000 federal employees have filed for retirement so far in 2014 — about 30 percent fewer than this time last year.
Retirement processing under scrutiny
OPM’s better-than-expected processing performance comes about a month after the agency retooled the method it uses to calculate its retirement projections — the second time in less than a year the agency has revised its predictions.
OPM came under scrutiny last month with the publication of a Washington Post report called “Sinkhole of Bureaucracy,” which cited the long series of failed efforts to modernize OPM’s retirement-processing efforts. The system, by and large, remains a manual, paper-based system that takes place in a refurbished mine in Boyers, Pa.
However, OPM has also pointed to its successes. In a March 24 blog post, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said the backlog is now down nearly 70 percent from a peak of more than 61,000 cases in January 2012, when OPM launched its initial plan to shrink the backlog. As of February, the average time to process a new retirement claim is down to 61 days — less than half of what it was before OPM debuted its plan.
In April, OPM expects to receive about 6,500 claims and to process another 9,300. By that point, the agency expected to reduce the backlog to about 16,800 claims.