Today, Congressman Cliff Bentz (OR-02) and 14 of his colleagues introduced the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) Accountability Act, a bill to return the NPRC to pre-pandemic funding levels if it fails to process and resolve the personnel record backlog of 600,000 requests before October 1, 2022.
"I was pleased to see the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) reopen in March of this year, after nearly two years of being closed. During its closure, many veterans in Oregon and across the country did not receive the records they require to demonstrate their military service. As a result, many of these individuals could not and cannot receive the medical care, disability compensation, and retirement pay they have earned in a timely manner. For example, after the Almeda Fire in southern Oregon, in which many veterans lost their medals and records, some cases were backlogged for over 800 days. The current backlog of some 600,000 cases needs to be swiftly resolved. This bill is simple: if NPRC does not do its job, they will lose the additional funding they received during the pandemic," said Rep. Cliff Bentz.
The NPRC is an agency of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which is responsible for maintaining records, such as DD-214 forms, for veterans to demonstrate military service. Veteran records are vital for a litany of reasons, especially for services such as ensuring necessary medical care is received and retirement pay is received. The legislation is a follow up to a letter sent by Rep. Bentz and 110 Members of Congress to NARA asking for a briefing on the agency's plan to reopen, which was held March 2, 2022. One day before the briefing, NARA announced the agency would reopen to full capacity. In that briefing, it was projected that the backlog would be eliminated by the end of this Fiscal Year under a new staffing structure.