OPM experiences delay in adding to federal retirees to Combined Federal Campaign

Federal retirees looking to donate for the first time to the Combined Federal Campaign this year have hit a snag: the online portal isn’t ready to accept their contributions just yet.

Federal retirees were supposed to be able to donate to a CFC charity of their choice by making a deduction through their annuity or by using a credit card or direct payment from their bank account, according to the campaign’s donation website.

But the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the CFC, can’t solicit donations from federal retirees just yet and it won’t be able to until it receives final approval to collect information from the annuitant population.

“Retirees are unable to contribute to the CFC at this time, as OPM is working to obtain clearance to collect information from retirees in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act,” an agency spokesperson told Federal News Radio. “Once OPM completes this process, it can begin the retiree giving aspect of the campaign.”

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The Paperwork Reduction Act puts certain limitations on the information agencies can collect and the number of people they can directly solicit from at any given time.

Because the campaign is no longer accepting cash donations or paper pledge forms, retirees can’t donate now — and won’t be able to until OPM receives final clearances and activates the retiree donation function on the CFC website.

OPM was hesitant to give a specific time for when it expected retirees would be able to donate. One retiree who contacted the CFC toll-free help center said he was told the annuitant function on the campaign donation site wouldn’t be active until mid-December at the earliest.

The campaign ends Jan. 12.

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association said some of their members have expressed their confusion.

“NARFE members have called and expressed interest in donating to the CFC via their annuities, and we are disappointed that retirees are unable to do so at this time,” NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement said in a statement to Federal News Radio. “We urge OPM to ensure the annuity contribution system is up and running before the end of the campaign season.”

The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, one of about 20,000 CFC charities, said it was told the functionality that enables retirees to make donations had been delayed.

2017 is the first year federal retirees could donate to the campaign. This is also the first year that all federal employees across the country are using one centralized online portal to donate. It’s all part of the CFC’s push to phase out its paper system over the next five years and streamline administrative functions.

OPM launched the CFC online donation portal later in October, after it took a few extra weeks to wait for all of its charities to get back on their feet after several hurricanes temporarily shuttered some organizations’ operations.