This january, US federal workers returned from the government shutdown facing a daunting task: processing massive new backlogs. The size of the challenge is staggering. Immigration courts canceled over 86,000 hearings during the 35 days of the shutdown and could be playing catch-up for years. The Internal Revenue Service received more than 700,000 pieces of mail per day during the latter weeks of the shutdown, and faced millions of unanswered queries from citizens.
Adding to the challenge is the fact that new backlogs were heaped on top of the many existing backlogs that federal agencies were already working through. Before the shutdown, many immigration courts already faced a two- to three-year backlog. The Veterans Administration’s claims backlog, which had reached over 600,000 in 2013, still hovered around 80,000. And Freedom of Information Act processing times for many agencies exceeded one year.
The federal government is not alone in facing down monumental backlogs.
The true costs of backlogs
How not to clear a backlog
A path toward solving backlogs
How can a government agency get started?