GAO: Retirement modernization at risk

The Office of Personnel Management's Retirement Systems Modernization program, designed to handle $50 billion in benefits annually, is at risk of missing its development deadlines and falling far short of its promises, according to a General Accountability Office report released today.

Although OPM officials still hope to develop the program to improve customer service, reduce accounting errors, and cut paper-based and manual processing, many processes are not yet developed and may never be completed.

"OPM lacks needed processes for developing and managing requirements, planning and managing project activities, managing risks, and providing sound information to investment decision-makers," the report states.

OPM anticipates the program's total cost to be about $294 million from fiscal 1997 to fiscal 2008, when the agency expects to have most of the work completed.

But without the processes to manage and plan the program, it "is at increased risk of not being developed and delivered on time and within budget and falling short of promised capabilities," GAO's report states.

In response to the report, OPM said it has included mandatory business requirements in the request for proposals for licensed technology. Agency officials said they are developing an acquisition strategy and completing an acquisition strategy, along with security and risk-mitigation plans.

OPM also said it has hired someone to develop a change management plan for each portion of the modernization before it is implemented.

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