In addition to continuing to fulfill our mandates, there are strategic issues we
must face in the coming years. These, along with our continuing service goals,
will serve as the basis for formulating our annual goals and budget requests.
Two overriding strategic issues for the upcoming planning period relate to
customer service and trust fund stewardship. The
service issue involves our
ability to meet our customers' expectations for personal, high quality service
as we have in the past, and our ability to position the agency to meet rising
customer expectations for new and improved services in the future. The
stewardship issue has multiple aspects, some of which arose from legislative
changes to the Railroad Retirement Act, enacted in 2001, and others which relate
to our ongoing ability to meet our program integrity responsibilities and to
maintain effective, efficient and secure agency operations.
Two key variables in successfully addressing both of these issues will be the
level of administrative funding the agency receives and how well we manage those
resources. Anticipating that budgetary resources will be very limited during
this planning period, the agency recognizes that it must develop innovative ways
to operate effectively in a downsized environment.
To address these issues, we need to overcome major challenges in the areas
described below. Each of these areas relates to specific strategic goals and
objectives which are outlined and discussed in Chapter V of this plan.
An important contributor to this agency's success in meeting our mission
and goals in the past has been the quality and experience of our workforce.
Historically, turnover has been relatively low, and almost 90 percent of our
employees have 10 or more years of service at the agency (with about
two-thirds of those having more than 20 years of service). However, as part of
an agency-wide buyout program at the beginning of fiscal year 2005, 77 of
these long-term agency employees left the agency. To help cope with the loss
of experience, particularly in times of limited budgets and hiring, the RRB is
placing increased emphasis on strategic management of human capital,
particularly in the areas of training and human capital planning. This takes
on added importance due to the fact that over 35 percent of the current RRB
workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2009.
Human capital planning, including provisions for employee support and
knowledge transfer, will be critical to our ability to continue to achieve our
mission. This will be especially challenging since our expected budget levels
will not allow for large-scale hiring of replacement staff. Our challenge during
this planning period will be to develop processes, training and systems that can
maximize the growth potential for agency employees while maintaining outstanding
Information Technology (IT) is one of the essential means to achieving the
RRB's mission. The RRB's IT capabilities span from basic infrastructure
support to integration and implementation of mission-critical applications,
network centric systems, and architectural design. Together these capabilities
ensure timely, accurate, and efficient delivery of benefits. We continue to
improve and advance our technologies. Beginning in 2005, the agency embarked
on a major multi-year project based on an Enterprise Architecture target
initiative to transition the mainframe computer to a relational database
management system from a non-relational database management system, and to
optimize the performance of the databases and further reduce data redundancy.
As mentioned above, with the impending drain on human capital resources due to
approaching retirements, another challenge will be to ensure the availability
of sufficient staff with the necessary skills to complete these modernization
Another critically important area of information technology is computer
security. We anticipate computer security to be a continuing, significant
challenge over the course of the planning period. The increasing number of
Internet and telecommunication services we plan to offer requires that we
continue to employ effective risk management procedures and “best practices” for
intrusion prevention to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability
of our mission critical assets.
Changed Role in Trust Fund Management
Legislative changes in 2001 called for the transfer of railroad retirement
funds from the Railroad Retirement Accounts to the NRRIT, whose Board of seven
trustees is empowered to invest NRRIT-held funds in non-governmental assets,
such as equities and debt, as well as in governmental securities.
As a result, the role of the RRB and its staff in relation to the Railroad
Retirement Account and the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Account has
fundamentally changed. The RRB no longer has primary responsibility for the
investment of railroad retirement trust fund monies, but continues to be
responsible for ensuring that the NRRIT complies with the provisions of the
Railroad Retirement Act. The agency has the authority to bring civil action to
enjoin any act or practice by the NRRIT, its Board of Trustees, or its employees
or agents that violates any provision of the Railroad Retirement Act or to
otherwise enforce the provisions of the Act.
See Figure 1 for a summary of the Strategic Goals and
Objectives resulting from these issues and challenges.
Figure 1: Summary of Strategic Goals and Objectives
Strategic Objective I-A:
Pay benefits accurately and timely.
Strategic Objective I-B:
Provide relevant, timely and accurate information which is easy to understand.
Strategic Objective I-C:
Provide a range of choices in service delivery methods.
Strategic Objective I-D:
Ensure efficient and effective business interactions with covered railroad employers.
Strategic Objective II-A:
Ensure that trust fund
assets are projected, collected, recorded,
and reported appropriately.
Strategic Objective II-B:
Ensure the integrity
of benefit programs.
Strategic Objective II-C:
efficiency, and security of operations.
Strategic Objective II-D:
Effectively carry out
the responsibilities of the Railroad Retirement
Board under the Railroad Retirement and Survivors'
Improvement Act of 2001 with respect to the
activities of the National Railroad Retirement