The slowness in processing federal retirement applications is among the issues with customer services provided by federal agencies targeted in bipartisan legislation recently offered in the Senate.

The Government Customer Service Improvement Act of 2012 sets specific service improvement targets OPM, which sponsors say "has experienced chronic backlogs for several years in processing retirement benefits for federal employees"—as of earlier this year, taking an average of five months for federal retirees to receive their first full benefit check, with delays of a year or more being common. "In addition, customers who call OPM consistently experience busy signals and significant wait times," they said.

Under the bill in general, agencies would have to develop specific customer service standards, designate a "service improvement officer" responsible for monitoring progress in that area, and would have to annually report on their customer service results. The main sponsors are Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va. and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

As a shorter-run initiative, the bill would require OMB to establish a special unit to temporarily assist those agencies which consistently fail to meet customer service standards, which by the bill’s definitions could include retirement application processing.