OPM Revolving Fund

Benchmarking Could Aid OPM's Efforts to Improve Customer Service Gao ID: GGD-92-18 January 21, 1992

In June 1987, GAO reported that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) did not seem to have enough investigators to handle personnel background investigations in a timely way and reduce the backlog of completed investigations. (See GAO/GGD-87-81.) GAO recommended that OPM hire and maintain an investigator staff at levels that would solve these problems, and OPM later agreed to provide more staff. This report follows up on GAO's earlier report and examines the timeliness of investigations, overall customer satisfaction with OPM's performance, and OPM's efforts to improve timeliness.

GAO found that: (1) the number of cases OPM had on hand decreased and case timeliness improved after OPM acquired additional full-time staff resources; (2) OPM increased its investigator staff from 495 full-time investigators in fiscal year (FY) 1987 to 921 in FY 1990 and, as a result, average case closure time decreased from 216 to 167 days; (3) the most current OPM timeliness data indicated that the average case closure time increased from 167 days in FY 1991 to 183 days in February 1991 and 186 days in March 1991; (4) OPM has been able to more timely complete investigations, but it has not always provided the 35-, 75-, or 120-day service requested by its customers; (5) in FY 1990, OPM took an average of 102 days to fill customer requests, an average of 2 months longer than requested; (6) 30 of the 82 personnel security officers surveyed said that such delays resulted in a loss of productivity, high employee turnover, low employee morale, and difficulty in recruiting, hiring, and carrying out personnel actions; (7) OPM management has recognized the importance of improving productivity to help increase timeliness and has been automating some processes to enhance productivity; and (8) if OPM could improve the productivity of its lower-performing Federal Investigations Divisions (FID) to the levels of its average or higher-performing divisions, it could potentially increase its output to a level equivalent to having had an additional 94 to 309 staff years in FY 1990, amounting to potential savings of $2.9 million to $9.5 million.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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