26,000 move to RetireEZ

Federal employees who are ready to retire will no longer wait months for their first pension payment or wonder if their personnel file is complete and accurate.

Retirees at the Office of Personnel Management, General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, and Railroad Retirement Board will be the first to use OPM’s new retirement systems, which are expected to solve many problems retirees have had, OPM officials said.

RetireEZ, developed by OPM and its contractors — Hewitt and Associates, Integic and Accenture — is the first phase of OPM’s Retirement Systems Modernization project. The project will initially support 26,000 employees.

When the implementation is complete in 2009, it will serve more than 2.7 million employees.

“The people in the group of four agencies will go to benefit officers and begin the retirement process and make elections for retirement using this system,” said Linda Springer, OPM’s director. “The system will process their data, employment history, salary history, military service and anything that is needed for employees to retire.”

Calculating retirement benefits used to be done manually, often resulting in missing data that caused delays and other problems.

“Without all this information, we would have to give the pension estimate a haircut so we wouldn’t overpay,” Springer said. “Then we would catch up [with the proper payment] when we got all the data. That is ridiculous in this day and age. We now can eliminate interim payments.”

OPM manages 150,000 file drawers of employee records in Boyers, Pa., where paper documents are annotated with handwritten notes and often incomplete, Springer said. Many agencies must clean and match employee data before they can begin using the new systems.

OPM implemented the first part of the system on time by offering it to employees who use GSA’s payroll processing system.

The agency plans to add U.S. Postal Service employees in the late spring or early summer.

OPM will make RetireEZ fully functional and include the rest of the executive, judicial and legislative branches by February 2009, Springer said. The new systems are working as expected so far, she added.

The American Federation of Government Employees hasn’t heard any complaints, either, said Terry Rosen, an AFGE labor relations specialist.

Employees using RetireEZ log on using a personal identification number and password to manage their retirement accounts.

The Thrift Savings Plan will feed information directly into RetireEZ, Springer said.  

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