Bipartisan effort led by McMorris Rodgers seeks better service at national records center

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) led a bipartisan contingent of 60 lawmakers urging the Biden administration to boost capacity and reduce backlogs at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which includes records for United States military veterans. 

“We were recently informed that the NPRC is now operating at 10 percent capacity,” the members wrote in a Sept. 23 letter sent to President Joe Biden, Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja, and Archivist David Ferriero. “This level is down from approximately 20 to 25 percent capacity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.”

As a result, the NPRC has a backlog of more than half a million records requests that have been unfulfilled, predominantly for the DD-214 form, which is a military veteran’s primary document used to provide his or her service. Such forms are required for veterans to obtain an identification card to receive veteran benefits, access preferential hiring for federal jobs, and shop and receive services at U.S. military bases, among others, according to their letter. 

“Without this verification, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for veterans to access the benefits they have earned through hard work and sacrifice to our country,” wrote Rep. McMorris Rodgers and her colleagues.

And while Congress last December authorized $50 million in emergency appropriations for the revolving NPRC fund — which has received $15 million of this funding — the NPRC has since seen a drop in staffing levels and processing capacity, the lawmakers wrote.  

“Veterans are our nation’s heroes. They deserve gold-standard access to care and benefits,” they wrote. “We urgently ask you to take any and all actions to address this growing crisis so that our heroes are not left behind in this already difficult time.”

Additionally, the lawmakers requested answers to several questions, including why the center is only operating at 10 percent capacity, as well as how many DD-214 forms are being processed and delivered per day at the current staffing levels, among others.