The RRB has committed to a number of management strategies that will guide
our efforts to accomplish our stated strategic goals and objectives. These
strategies encompass many areas, but can be loosely categorized along the lines
of the President's Management Agenda, which is designed to promote management
improvements throughout the Federal government in six key areas:
- Expanded E-Government
- Budget and Performance Integration
- Financial Management Improvements
- Strategic Management of Human Capital
- Competitive Sourcing and Partnerships
- Freedom of Information Act Planning, Processing and Reporting
and Innovation, including E-Government
Our primary goal is to strategically align our information technology (IT)
environment and investments to most effectively and efficiently support our
business needs. The planned improvements in IT operations and procedures will
enable us to respond rapidly to changing business requirements, such as
legislative changes and technological advances. We are currently engaged in a
multi-year project to implement a mainframe-based relational database management
system and to optimize the large databases which comprise the core of our
benefit program operations. Our priorities in the coming years will include
implementing a variety of E-Government initiatives within the framework of our
overall information technology architecture, in a secure and stable electronic
environment. At the same time, we will also focus on other business process
improvements which may or may not require new systems or automation. Such
improvements will include reengineered work processes and streamlined
procedures. The key components of this strategy are outlined below:
E-Government is a major technological advance that allows our customers the
option of choosing to use the Internet for a variety of services. One of the
principal components of the President's Management Agenda, E-Government has
significant potential for improving customer service, since it gives the
customer more independent control over his/her own business transactions, which
can be conducted at any time and from any location where the customer has an
Internet connection. In addition, E-Government promises a framework within which
Federal agencies will be able to collaborate and align their efforts to provide
standard customer service features, to eliminate redundancy, and to take
advantage of economies of scale in the development of new applications.
The RRB currently has several E-Government services available for our
customers, and plans to expand the range of services even more. Examples of
on-line services our customers will have in the future include:
- On-line applications for use by railroad employees and their spouses in
filing for retirement age and service benefits.
- On-line claims for sickness insurance benefits.
- An enhanced Employer Reporting System (ERS) for use by railroads and rail
labor employers to file service and compensation reports and for related
activities. The enhancements include: additional forms, improved on-line edits
and help, creation of an on-line training system, improved secure file
transfers and the conversion of the system to Microsoft's .Net platform.
- On-line input of change of address or direct deposit information.
Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a process that not only drives continuous
business and technology alignment, but provides an overall plan for designing,
implementing and maintaining the underlying infrastructure to support
information sharing and resource optimization. Technology has done an excellent
job of supporting agency business needs. Our opportunity is to leverage this
experience and knowledge into enterprise solutions that support the future of
the RRB and the constituents we serve. EA offers a framework for accomplishing
this shared mission.
The RRB's EA framework is based on the Federal Enterprise Architecture
Framework. The EA documents the agency's baseline architecture and the processes
for managing change to the architecture. The target architecture we have
established defines the information technology environment to achieve our
current and future business goals and objectives. The target environment is
- Streamline business and technical processes and procedures;
- Be flexible in consolidating similar or redundant internal and
government-wide functions, applications, software and hardware;
- Enable collaboration among all kinds of applications; and,
- Promote reuse of data and processes, as a means of reducing development
time and costs.
Our focus will remain on simplifying the delivery of services and making it
possible for our customers, businesses and government agencies to easily obtain
information and service from the RRB. We will use several strategies over the
course of the planning period in order to achieve these goals.
- Point-of-Contact Service
This is our way of describing our ideal service delivery method – one in
which a single contact from the customer, including businesses and government
agencies, results in the desired outcome, without internal handoffs or the
need for multiple customer contacts. We use this approach when designing
internal processes and procedures for our claims examiners and claims
representatives who deal with our customers. This philosophy has also been
built into our enterprise architecture, and represents a key requirement in
our overall strategy. We will ensure that new systems are designed to provide
this kind of responsive customer service.
- Streamlining and reengineering
While we strive to meet the standards we set in our customer service and
performance plans, we may not always be able to do that. We will review our
performance data at least annually to identify areas that fall short of our
goals. Through streamlining and reengineering studies, we will look for ways
to make short-term improvements, and we will develop recommendations for
longer-term projects. Finally, we will track our improvements to determine
Review of regulations, policies and procedures
To some extent regulatory, policy or procedural requirements may cause
delays, inaccuracies or complexities. We will review and evaluate such
requirements to determine if changes would be warranted. If so, we will
propose alternatives in order to reduce operational complexities and erroneous
situations, and alleviate delays.
and Performance Integration
Demonstrating the relationship between budgetary resources and performance is
a key government-wide initiative in the President's Management Agenda. Since
1997, the RRB's annual performance plans have shown a direct link between
expected performance, stated in terms of measurable results, and resources
Beginning in fiscal year 2007, we will also work with OMB to evaluate RRB
programs using the Program Assessment Rating Tool.
C. Financial Management Improvements
The President's Management Agenda calls on Federal agencies to improve
financial performance by providing accurate and timely information to support
operating, budget, and policy decisions, and by reducing improper payments.
The RRB's financial statement received an unqualified audit opinion in fiscal
year 2005 for the sixth consecutive year. However, the RRB's Inspector General
identified three material weaknesses in his Opinion on the Financial Statements,
dated October 27, 2005: information security, performance measures, and controls
over the actuarial projection process. The Board Members have acknowledged all
three weaknesses and have determined that the information security weakness
represents a material weakness under the Federal Managers Financial Integrity
Act (FMFIA). The Board Members have not categorized the other two areas as
material weaknesses under the FMFIA. Nevertheless, the agency has developed
action plans and is taking steps to make improvements in all three areas.
To meet new reporting requirements, and thereby provide more timely financial
information, the RRB has issued quarterly financial statements within 21 days
after the end of each quarter since fiscal year 2004. Also, the annual
Performance and Accountability Report has been issued within 45 days after the
end of each fiscal year since 2004.
In June 2004, the RRB migrated its payroll processing to the General Services
Administration (GSA). We are also participating in GSA's E-Gov Travel initiative
to implement an automated, integrated and web-based approach to consolidating
travel services. The E-Gov Travel system is designed to support everything from
planning, authorizations and travel management services to voucher submission
The agency has established and documented a multi-faceted methodology for
identifying improper payments in our RRA and RUIA benefit payment programs. Our
improper payment rates do not exceed the OMB thresholds, as defined by OMB
guidance M-03-13, which includes guidelines for implementing the Improper
Payments Information Act of 2002. The RRB has made concerted efforts to reduce
improper payments over the years. Our payment accuracy rates are at consistently
high levels and the return on investment for program integrity activities has
been high as well. We monitor progress on implementing recommendations from the
quality assurance process, and we are vigilant about pursuing OIG
recommendations which impact the quality and timeliness of payments. We have
also worked closely with our OIG in referring potential fraud cases for
investigation and prosecution. In addition, we pursue automation initiatives and
operational improvements that minimize improper payments.
D. Strategic Management of Human Capital
While we have great confidence in our proven track record and in our continued
ability to successfully manage our human capital resources, we understand that
work is still needed to maximize the principles that are embodied in successful
human capital management. This is one of our highest priorities during this
planning period. The President's Management Agenda calls for various human
capital strategies. These are listed below with a brief description of the RRB's
intentions regarding each one:
alignment with the agency's mission
We will align our human capital policies to support the accomplishment of
the agency's mission, vision, goals and objectives. This will include ensuring
that all employees and organizational units can link their daily activities
with the agency's mission.
planning and deployment
We will recruit, hire, develop and retain a diverse workforce with the
strategic competencies required for mission-critical positions.
and knowledge management
We will foster a leadership environment that inspires, motivates and
guides employees toward our strategic goals; coaches, mentors, and challenges
staff; provides needed training and sharing of knowledge; and, models high
standards of honesty, integrity, trust, and respect for all individuals.
We will maintain a performance culture that effectively uses performance
appraisal and incentive systems to distinguish between good and poor
performers and encourages innovation, creativity and enthusiasm among our
staff. We will also provide a flexible work environment, using programs such
as family-friendly leave, compressed work schedules, telecommuting, and other
accommodations to improve morale and productivity.
We will encourage professionalism and productivity in our workforce
through training, incentives, and effective performance appraisal systems. We
will also promote a climate of openness, continuous learning, and improvement.
Through our succession/workforce planning efforts, we will strive to identify
all mission-critical occupations, competencies and skills, addressing any
We will document our human capital management policies and guidelines
through plans, procedures, handbooks and reports, and will use analytical data
to aid our decision-making and to assess our overall progress in this area.
E. Competitive Sourcing and Partnerships
Competitive sourcing involves conducting public-private competitions, either
in a standardized or streamlined process, for commercial activities currently
performed by Federal employees. The RRB is committed to meeting statutory and
regulatory requirements for identifying commercial activities and conducting
such competitions, as described in Chapter V, Objective II-C. For example, we
will comply with the requirements of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act
of 1998 and meet all procedural guidelines for competitive sourcing evaluations.
In addition to our competitive sourcing activities, we will also be taking the
following actions related to procurement and partnerships:
that the RRB consistently pays the lowest
price for products and services commensurate
with quality, service, delivery and reliability.
This strategy will result in a first-class acquisition system based upon
regulations that apply to all Federal agencies. This system will make maximum
use of competitive procedures, require that awarded contracts include past
performance as an evaluation factor, and ensure that contractors meet all
delivery requirements and schedules for goods or services. To achieve this,
the RRB will:
the lowest price for products/services
commensurate with quality, service, delivery,
We will promote full and open competition to the maximum extent
practical when procuring products and services for the agency, and award
purchase orders and contracts only to responsible contractors.
manage solicitations and the resulting
We will award contracts on time to ensure that the required product or
service is delivered in time to meet agency requirements and ensure the
delivery of quality products and services.
We will use the simplified acquisition processes where appropriate,
including procurement cards for smaller purchases. We will closely monitor
products and service delivery schedules and take all necessary remedies to
obtain products and services that satisfy agency requirements.
- Make use of strategic sourcing as a means of maximizing the value of
funds spent on goods and services.
In May 2005, OMB issued guidance that encouraged agencies to implement
strategic sourcing. This is a collaborative and structured process for
critically analyzing spending and making data-driven decisions on acquiring
goods and services. While the RRB does not spend as much of its budget on
commodities and services as larger agencies, we have identified items such
as office supplies, paper, printer cartridges and photocopiers that lend
themselves to such an approach. We will look for opportunities to obtain
savings on these particular items, as well as attempt to identify other
areas suitable for strategic sourcing techniques.
outside sources and partnerships, when appropriate,
to accomplish our mission.
As a small agency, it is not always economically feasible to retain staff
expertise in specialized areas or to perform all activities in-house. We will
evaluate the use of outside resources and partnerships based on considerations
such as cost and/or time savings, improved effectiveness, enhanced expertise and
increased customer satisfaction.
In keeping with this strategy, we will:
- Make use of advisory and assistance services when appropriate.
- Keep abreast of current trends and opportunities.
- Work with other agencies and organizations to meet mutual goals.
F. Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) Planning, Processing and Reporting
On December 14, 2005, the President issued Executive Order 13392,
entitled “Improving Agency Disclosure of Information,” which contains
several statements of government-wide FOIA policy as well as many specific
new planning and reporting requirements that will affect all Federal
agencies in their administration of the Act.
Executive Order 13392 requires all Federal agencies subject to the FOIA to
designate a Chief FOIA Officer; to establish FOIA Requester Service Centers and
designate FOIA Public Liaisons; to review their FOIA operations; to develop a
plan for improving those operations; and to submit reports on all such matters
to the Attorney General, who in turn will report on these implementation steps
in a consolidated fashion with recommendations to the President.
Pursuant to the Executive Order, the Board Members have named the agency's
General Counsel as the Chief FOIA Officer for the RRB, and the Assistant General
Counsel as its FOIA Public Liaison. Additionally, the Board Members have
designated the Office of General Counsel as its FOIA Requester Service Center
for the purpose of facilitating better agency communications with FOIA
The RRB will prepare an agency-specific plan for improvement of our
administration of the FOIA with concrete milestones and specific timetables and
outcomes to be achieved, and by which agency improvements can be measured. As
required by the Executive Order, the RRB will report on the development and
implementation of its plan to the Department of Justice and the Office of
Management and Budget.