The Washington Post

A sinkhole of federal bureaucracy in Pennsylvania

Boyers, Pa., a small rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh, is home to the underground U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Retirement Operations Center. There are few other office jobs available in this rural area, so workers there tend to stay. (Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post)

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold explored one of the quirkier corners of the federal bureaucracy in a multimedia feature on Sunday, showing how the government still processes paperwork by hand, deep inside a former Pennsylvania mine.

We’d like to hear from federal workers about their thoughts on the office. Do you have experiences with it? Do you work there? What do you think about this antiquated process of dealing with retirement filings? Share your input in the comment section.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

In BOYERS, Pa. — The trucks full of paperwork come every day, turning off a country road north of Pittsburgh and descending through a gateway into the earth. Underground, they stop at a metal door decorated with an American flag.

Behind the door, a room opens up as big as a supermarket, full of five-drawer file cabinets and people in business casual. About 230 feet below the surface, there is easy-listening music playing at somebody’s desk.

This is one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government — both for where it is and for what it does.

Here, inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the government’s own workers.

But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.

MORE: Sinkhole of bureaucracy 



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