We aim to satisfy our customers' expectations for quality service both in terms of service delivery options and levels and manner of performance.
We have established four strategic objectives that focus on the specifics of achieving this goal.
Strategic Objective I-A:
Pay benefits accurately and timely
In fiscal year 2005, 99.62% of all
initial recurring railroad retirement benefit payments were accurate. In fiscal
year 2005, the unemployment insurance payment accuracy rate was 98.73% and the
sickness insurance benefit payment accuracy rate was 99.94%.
The RRB is committed to ensuring that we pay the right benefits to the right
people in a timely manner. We have a number of measures in place to track the
accuracy and timeliness of the actions we take in a year, both in the Railroad
Retirement Act (RRA) and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) programs.
The principal indicators of accuracy
are the benefit payment and case accuracy rates in each program. Our long-term
performance goal is to meet or exceed 99 percent payment accuracy in the
payments we initiate or manually adjust in a given year. (Payment accuracy is
defined as the percentage of dollars paid correctly as a result of the
adjudication action performed.) We also have long-term case accuracy goals (the
number of cases paid without material error/the number of cases paid) of at
least 94 percent in RRA cases, and at least 98 percent in RUIA cases. To
accomplish these goals, we will:
payment and case accuracy and identify problems.
We will continue monitoring the accuracy of award actions, looking at
performance trends, and identifying problem areas. On an ongoing basis, we
use that feedback to identify opportunities for process improvement, make
recommendations for automation initiatives, and identify training needs.
feedback and take additional preventive actions
On an ongoing basis, we will also continue to provide constructive
feedback to organizations for their use in enhancing and rewarding
individual or group performance. We will also provide training, as
appropriate, to prevent recurrence of human errors.
- Ensure accurate,
up-to-date, accessible instructions to support
our front-line employees as they provide customer
During the planning period, we expect to:
- review and consolidate procedures in an
- develop on-line, interactive, technical
courseware which will enable us to provide
basic and refresher training in adjudication
of our Acts; and
- provide on-line links to detailed procedures
at the desktop to support our employees
in handling error-prone or unusual cases.
our customers about their responsibilities.
In all communications with our customers,
we will provide clear guidance on their
responsibilities to provide accurate, complete
information. This will allow them to receive
the maximum benefits to which they are legally
entitled, while helping the agency avoid
We measure the success of our efforts to make
timely payments by looking at a
variety of information, such as our performance against the Customer Service
Plan, and average processing times.
One performance goal for timeliness is to achieve
the levels of service outlined in the Customer Service Plan. Our Performance
Budget sets yearly targets for the percentage of customers that will receive
service in the time frame specified in the Customer Service Plan. These targets
are revised annually based upon such variables as projected workloads, process
capabilities and available resources. To accomplish these goals, we will:
that the Customer Service Plan is comprehensive
and is revised when appropriate.
Currently, the RRB's Customer Service Plan has a number of timeliness
goals for initial retirement, survivor, and disability decisions and
payments, as well as for unemployment and sickness insurance applications
and claims. A timeliness goal is also in place for handling customer
inquiries. Progress against our goals is tracked and reported to our
customers annually. Over the course of the planning period, we will review
the standards in the plan to ensure that they are consistent with our
performance goals, and expressed in terms that are both useful to our
customers and easily measurable.
- Promote direct deposit for benefit
Lost or stolen checks have caused financial hardship for RRB
beneficiaries and additional cost to the agency to resolve claims and handle
additional calls. Direct deposit is a safe, secure, and less costly method
of delivering benefit payments. We will continue to work with Treasury to
promote direct deposit for RRB beneficiaries.
key payment workloads.
We will continue to monitor our performance on key payment-related
workloads. We will aim to maintain the on-hand balances at the end of the
fiscal year at or below the “normal working balance” -- that is, the number
that can reasonably be worked off by existing staff within the timeliness
standard set for that work.
To improve our long-term performance in disability timeliness we plan
- Allocate resources effectively.
Since 1998, we have improved the timeliness of rendering disability
decisions and plan to make further progress. During the planning period we
will align our staffing resources appropriately from claim handling areas
which have already benefited from automation efficiencies to the disability
area which, by its very nature, is more labor intensive.
Strategic Objective I-B: Provide
relevant, timely, and accurate information which is easy to understand
We responded to 98.5% of all written
inquiries within 15 days of receipt, in fiscal year 2005.
In addition to making payments, we provide a variety of information to our
customers. We provide general information through our web-site, publications,
and our toll-free automated Help Line. We also provide information to
individuals through annual statements of wages and compensation, annuity
estimates, notices of annuity and benefit awards and changes, annual income tax
statements, and answers to questions regarding benefits. It is important that we
provide this information in a timely manner and in ways that are accessible and
responsive to the individual's needs. The information must also be meaningful to
the customer and easy to understand. The timeliness of our information is
measured by how well we succeed in achieving the levels of service designated in
our Customer Service Plan and by acceptable workload balances. Customer feedback
will help us determine if the information we are providing satisfies the
customer's needs and expectations.
To accomplish this, we will:
- Listen to our customers to determine their
expectations and whether those expectations
are being met.
- We will continue to review feedback we get from customer comment cards
available in our field offices.
- We will continue to use customer feedback to identify gaps in our
performance. When appropriate, we will provide our employees with training
opportunities to improve their communication skills.
- As funding allows, we will conduct customer satisfaction surveys which
will give us feedback on this and other goals. We plan to continue use of
the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to evaluate customer
confidence; the Index has been used successfully by the agency in the past.
- We will continue to conduct a variety of special studies/periodic
measures, such as post-service follow-ups, when problem areas are identified
and as resources are available.
our Customer Service Plan or our processes,
based on customer feedback.
Using the feedback generated from our customer contacts, we will look for
opportunities to improve our notices and publications. We will also review the
Customer Service Plan, in part, based on feedback received and make revisions
as appropriate to respond to our customers' requirements.
key informational workloads.
We will continue to monitor our performance on key workloads, such as
providing tax statements. We will aim to maintain workload levels at the end
of the fiscal year that are at or below the normal working balance.
on interactive electronic solutions that provide
immediate responses and intermediate status
We will continue to pursue interactive Internet and telephone solutions
that provide verification and monitoring capabilities of requested information
and claims. We will also pursue options to provide the capability for
claimants to be transferred directly to a claims representative from an
electronic application, when appropriate.
- Fully develop a Customer Contact Log.
A fully developed Customer Contact Log will enable agency staff to record
information about a customer call or inquiry and maintain it on a database.
This information will then be accessible for retrieval and updating the next
time that customer contacts us, no matter who takes the call. This will enable
our front-line employees to ensure that the customer is being given accurate,
consistent information, and will provide for continuity in providing service
to our customers. A prototype for this system was developed in 2001 to assist
the agency with implementation of the Railroad Retirement and Survivors'
Strategic Objective I-C: Provide
a range of choices in service delivery methods
In order to fulfill customers' needs, we must provide high quality, accurate
services on a timely basis, and in ways that are accessible and convenient to
all our customers, including the elderly and those with impairments. Consistent
with our vision statement, we strive to provide a broad range of choices for
customer service. Independent surveys of RRB beneficiaries reveal they prefer to
obtain service through personal contact, primarily by telephone. However, as
electronic self-service becomes more accepted by our customers, we will continue
to expand our service delivery choices through the Internet and our interactive
voice response system (HelpLine).
In fiscal year 2005, the Railroad Retirement Board (“the Board”) approved a
plan to better position the agency's field service for the future. The plan
calls for a hub and spoke structure with a number of service centers that will
provide face-to-face and telephone service for the agency's customers. The plan
would also facilitate consolidation of agency field offices, provide for
co-location of field offices with other entities, and provide for introduction
of virtual offices in the field. The plan's goal is to continue the agency's
commitment to outstanding customer service through an efficient field service
In discussions with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) concerning the
Board's fiscal year 2007 budget, the Board agreed to hire a consultant with
input from agency staff, rail labor, and the rail industry, to review the hub
and spoke plan and to develop a 5-year implementation plan. The plan would
include consolidation, co-location, and/or the establishment of virtual offices
and demonstrate out-year savings without serious erosion of customer service.
Our level of performance will be measured by how well we succeed in
providing the level of service our customers expect, and by the number of new
electronic services we can provide in each program at a reasonable cost. Our
long-term goal is to expand customer choice by offering alternative access to
our major services.
To achieve this objective, over the course
of the next 5 years, we plan to:
- Increase opportunities for our
customers to conduct business in a secure manner over the Internet.
The RRB web site allows customers to request replacement Medicare cards,
duplicate tax statements, statements of service and compensation and rate
verification letters. It also provides the capability to request a
retirement annuity estimate, pay certain debts to the agency, file
unemployment applications and claims, and view a summary of unemployment and
sickness insurance benefits paid. Future services will include allowing our
Medicare contractor to provide changes of address and death notices, and the
ability to file sickness insurance claims and retirement applications.
- Provide additional services through
We will offer most of the same service options
available on the agency's web site through our 1-800 RRB HelpLine. We will
also add a number of new services, including options for retirees to obtain
information about their monthly payments, such as the date of payment, amount,
and method of payment, as well as information about Federal income tax
withholding, including the amount of withholding and withholding election
We will consider using speech recognition technology, in addition to
touch-tone service, and providing an option to route calls to local field
service representatives. The option of routing calls to the local field
service representative would enable us to provide toll-free service while
retaining the benefits that the customers associate with our network of local
customers' service delivery preferences.
Our customers can choose to obtain service
in-person (both at field offices and through our customer outreach program), via
telephone, via mail, or through advanced technology, such as electronic mail,
the Internet, fax, and interactive voice response systems.
We will consider ongoing input from meetings with our customers, customer
satisfaction comment cards, feedback from our own employees and customer surveys
such as the ACSI to obtain additional feedback about how our customers want
their service delivered. As we expand our uses of newer technologies, we will
ensure ease of use by providing clear and easy to understand instructions within
a private and secure environment.
Strategic Objective I-D: Ensure
efficient and effective business interactions
with covered railroad employers
To correctly pay benefits, the RRB must receive timely and accurate reports
of the wages and service months of covered employees. It is the responsibility
of the employer to provide these reports with respect to its employees. To
ensure the receipt of accurate and timely forms, reports, and payments, the RRB
must strive to provide rail employers with reporting processes that are easily
understood, that place minimal burden on the employers, and ensure compliance
with applicable laws and guidelines. To accomplish this, the RRB intends to:
- Continue to develop electronic services
that enable the employer to conduct daily business transactions and file
required reports in an efficient, effective manner.
Annual employer reports filed
electronically, or on magnetic media, of wages and service months of covered
employees now cover 98% of all employees. This reduces the reporting burden on
covered employers and helps to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the
We have identified 74 forms that we use to conduct business with covered
employers. Our long-term aim is to review all these business interactions and
determine if we can be more efficient by providing the capacity to initiate and
retrieve this information via the Internet or other electronic means. We are
accomplishing this objective using a multi-faceted approach as follows:
- The Employer Reporting System (ERS) is an interactive web-based system which
currently makes four forms available on the Internet. We are testing two
additional forms which will be available for employers to use during fiscal year
2006, and have defined software requirements for several additional forms. We
are also looking for ways to streamline the reporting process by consolidating
the number of forms requiring completion.
- Employers have been given access to make lien recovery payments through the
Department of the Treasury's web-based Pay.gov. In the coming months, registered
employers will also be able to receive bill notifications electronically.
- We have just implemented a process for providing employers with quotes for
lien settlements via secure e-mail. The use of secure e-mail will expand as our
experience with it grows, and proper information collection clearances have been
to look for ways to encourage employers to
file accurate and timely annual service and
We will continue and expand on our training programs to provide employers
with needed assistance.