What do retirement papers, a PA limestone mine, and $55 million have in common?

An outdated process, that’s what. A type of process that we hear about more often than we would like to in this digital world.

reproduction of office of personnel management underground office in PA

Image Courtesy Washington Post

Recently, this Washington Post article caught our attention.

Situated more than 200 feet below ground in what was once a Pennsylvania limestone mine, the Office of Personnel Management is definitely one of the stranger work environments that exist for government employees. The mine was an ideal location, but not for why you’d assume something is placed in obscurity. Confidentiality? Privacy? No and no. The mine was selected because it’s massive, and the Office of Personnel Management needed the space.

The main floor is roughly the size of a department store, which is undoubtedly necessary to hold the 600-or-so employees who work there. However, the offshoots (old mining tunnels) are just as necessary, to hold the expansive fields of filing cabinets numbering almost 30 thousand… and counting.

These 600 employees work day in and day out to process the retirement information of their fellow government employees. It is all done by hand, and it is almost entirely paper-based. At one point, in an effort to combat the sluggish nature of this operation, the number of employees in the Office of Personnel Management was increased by 50%. While it may have sped things up a little bit, this increased the cost of processing a single retirement claim from around $80.00 to over $100.00. The total spending of the retirement was pushed to well over $55 million.

james w morrison on the office of personnel managementSee what we mean by “outdated?” Let us put it this way–it moves at the same pace that it was moving in the 1970’s. Annesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration, has been quoted referring to the Office of Personnel Management as “that crazy cave.” We have to agree; this system is nothing short of crazy.

With the document management systems and tools that are available today, to be operating under these time-consuming, expensive conditions is crazy. Yet, it isn’t even close to uncommon. This particular example is larger-scale than the norm, sure, but it’s no different when you boil them down.

Though they may be the most obvious, time and money are not the only issues with a manual, paper-based system. What would happen if a fire or a flood were to occur? What happens when something is misfiled? Stop searching for needles in haystacks; stop gambling on the security of your mission-critical records.

Document management solutions are a fundamental component in moving a business forward in today’s environment. Save time, save money, and save yourself from falling behind. Change can be scary, and we get that, but there are so many options available to help get your business’ filing system where it needs to be. Don’t get buried–literally OR figuratively–under an outdated process.

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