Following is the section of a report accompanying a newly released Senate Appropriations Committee measure for general government operations that raises several long-running management-related concerns regarding OPM.
The Committee remains concerned about OPM’s overall IT posture and expects OPM to implement the recommendations of Government Accountability Office [GAO] reports and IG reports to improve information security. The Committee continues a prior directive for OPM to provide quarterly briefings to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate outlining progress on its IT Transformation and Cybersecurity Strategy.
The Committee is aware that financial hardships can occur when retirement processing does not occur in a timely way. In some cases, employees who have recently retired can wait months for their pensions and as a result, may be at risk of losing a home, vehicle, or other essential assets. The Committee supports modernization efforts to reduce the backlog including implementation of an electronic retirement record to replace the current paper-based individual retirement record and construction of an online retirement application so that Federal employees can apply for retirement benefits online; however, progress has been slow. OPM should examine ways to reduce the complexity of calculating the FERS annuity supplement, including software improvements. Funding should be prioritized, and should be requested in future years, to continue and expand these efforts.
Treatment of Multi-County Micropolitan Statistical Areas
In recent years, the Federal Salary Council has recommended to the President’s Pay Agent that multi-county micropolitan statistical areas be treated the same as multi-county metropolitan statistical areas, but those recommendations have not been approved. OPM is directed to provide a detailed report within 60 days of enactment of this act on why multi-county micropolitan statistical areas aren’t treated as multi-county metropolitan statistical areas for the purpose of calculating eligibility for locality pay, including the criteria OPM would view as necessary for such equal treatment to occur. In addition to the reporting requirement, OPM shall brief the Committee on this matter within 90 days of enactment of this Act.
Responsiveness to Congress
The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for providing support and employee management expertise to Federal agencies. Information and reporting provided by OPM is crucial to the oversight functions of Congress. The Committee expects OPM to fully comply with information requests from the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. In instances when information or reports are deemed agency-sensitive, OPM is expected to be transparent and work collectively with the Committee to ensure that Congress has access to information critical to its functions.