OPM failed at modernizing, automating its retirement system, GAO says

Through four presidential administrations, the Office of Personnel Management attempted to modernize its retirement system for 20 years before admitting failure, according to a new federal report.

“For over two decades, OPM has been attempting to modernize its federal employee retirement process by automating paper-based processes and replacing antiquated information systems,” states the Nov. 15 report by the Government Accountability Office, which was meant to be an overview of recent audits.

“However, these efforts have been unsuccessful, and OPM canceled its most recent retirement modernization effort in February 2011,” the report said.

The GAO report may add fodder to arguments by Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida, and other critics alleging that the Office of Personnel Management lacks the expertise for complex information technology development programs, based on its recent mishandling of the USAJobs website.

OPM launched the 3.0 version of the USAJobs job search website on Oct. 11. Users submitted about 40,000 Help Desk requests with various complaints about the website in three weeks. OPM officials say they are addressing the problems.

However, the GAO report suggests that IT problems at OPM may run deeper. While the report did not detail the cost of the failed retirement system, it said OPM spent $79 million on IT investments in fiscal 2011.

In the retirement system, GAO identified weaknesses in OPM’s project management, risk management, organizational change management, testing, cost estimates and earned value management.

For example, test results a month prior to the deployment of one of the retirement system’s major components showed that it had not performed as intended. “The defects, along with a compressed testing schedule, increased the risk that the deployed system would not work as intended,” the GAO report said.

GAO made no new recommendations, and did not include a response from OPM managers in the report.



About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by wk1003mike): cloud system fracture.

    Does the IRS have a cloud strategy?

    Congress and watchdog agencies have dinged the IRS for lacking an enterprise cloud strategy seven years after it became the official policy of the U.S. government.

  • Shutterstock image: illuminated connections between devices.

    Who won what in EIS

    The General Services Administration posted detailed data on how the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract might be divvied up.

  • Wikimedia Image: U.S. Cyber Command logo.

    Trump elevates CyberCom to combatant command status

    The White House announced a long-planned move to elevate Cyber Command to the status of a full combatant command.

  • Photo credit: John Roman Images / Shutterstock.com

    Verizon plans FirstNet rival

    Verizon says it will carve a dedicated network out of its extensive national 4G LTE network for first responders, in competition with FirstNet.

  • AI concept art

    Can AI tools replace feds?

    The Heritage Foundation is recommending that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs be replaced by automation as part of a larger government reorganization strategy.

  • DOD Common Access Cards

    DOD pushes toward CAC replacement

    Defense officials hope the Common Access Card's days are numbered as they continue to test new identity management solutions.

Reader comments

Thu, Apr 4, 2013

It's time for OPM to outsource, a contractor can perform more timely & accurately than the bunch of Sloths at OPM. OPM Retirement processing is a failure!

Thu, Jan 5, 2012

I am not surprised at the failure. Too many "old" folks (not referring to age) who resist change and new technology.

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 OccupyIT

Keep up the good work, Alice! Only through transparency and accountabilty can we HOPE to contribute and make things better. Keep digging, there is more to be found and keep asking. "Why?" when they provide glib answers like "privacy" that really are attempts to say, "Don't worry your pretty little head" and "Don't look behind the curtain." They are fuming that IG reports are public and those are just the issues they can stomach to surface. You are our hero! P.S. you will know they are getting nervous when they haul out a contractor to demonize for their 'insourcing' debacle!

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group