EPFO’s IT System Collapsing: Software Causing Wastage of Time, Officers Send SOS to Centre


Officers of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) shot off an unusually grave missive to the Central government on Wednesday, slamming its inaction on fixing the fund’s archaic and “collapsing” software systems, and finalising replacements for old servers that would likely stop working by January 2024.

In their communique to Union Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav, the officers cited a sharp surge in pending claims and grievances from EPFO’s members. Hinting that the situation is likely to get worse, they stressed that they must not be held responsible for issues beyond their control.

Huge corpus, tiny IT budget

Warning that any delays in procuring new servers and hardware will cost the EPFO and its members “dearly”, the EPF Officers’ Association (EPFOA) has pointed out that they maintain over 25 crore employees’ PF accounts, with a massive corpus of ₹21 lakh crore.

However, the EPFO has a paltry IT budget, over half of which is spent on hardware like computers and printers, while software development gets hardly any attention. The EPFO lacks clear IT policies or human resources, unlike banks, or the Goods and Services Tax Network, and Income Tax Department, they flagged.

The EPFO’s board of trustees, chaired by Mr. Yadav, is aware of its IT challenges, they said. The board had endorsed the recommendations of an ad-hoc panel on IT issues headed by the Labour Secretary, at its meeting in March 2022. “Unfortunately, no progress has been made on implementation of the recommendations,” the EPFOA said.

Increasing claims pendency

The EPFO’s internal official WhatsApp group, with senior officers from the headquarters and field offices, is “flooded on a daily basis with complaints and requests for help from field offices regarding slow or dead working-speed of the software causing wastage of precious man-hours and increasing claims pendency levels”, the EPFOA revealed.

“When field offices complain of slow software speed, the reply given to them by head office is that system is running slow due to excessive load of claims processing in the database,” they noted, adding that many field office staffers are routinely working on Saturdays and holidays to catch up.

Seeking an urgent intervention from the Minister, the EPFOA has emphasised that pendency of member claims and consequent grievances is on the rise. “To hold the field offices solely responsible for any such increase in claims pendency would be wholly unjustifiable,” the letter stated.

“Furthermore, to evaluate the performance of officers in the field, particularly, in large offices where even a single day’s disruption in system speed has a cascading effect in terms of pendency would not only be arbitrary & unwarranted, but also bring down the morale of EPFO officers and staff who are giving their best performance under such trying circumstance,” the EPFOA concluded.

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