GAO: USPS National Reassessment Program For Injured Employees Needs Improvement

Why GAO Did This Study

The Program for Reassessing Work Provided to Injured Employees Is Under Way, but Actions Are Needed to Improve Program Management

Highlights of GAO-10-78, a report to congressional requesters

Between 50,000 and 60,000 United States Postal Service (Service) employees, or 7 to 8 percent of the Service’s workforce, occupied a modified work assignment during fiscal year 2008. The Service must provide these assignments to employees with workplace injuries if work is available to perform within their medical restrictions. Historically, the Service has returned employees to work as soon as possible, partly to reduce its costs for workers’ compensation. In 2006, the Service initiated a program, the National Reassessment Process, to ensure that modified work assignments are medically suitable and necessary to carry out the Service’s mission. This requested report addresses (1) the goal of the program, (2) how it is being implemented, and (3) the program’s status and outcomes. To perform its work, GAO analyzed data and documentation, visited four districts selected to illustrate a range of conditions, and interviewed Service officials.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that the Service establish program completion timelines, track and measure outcomes, and disclose limitations of its reported cost savings. The Service agreed with GAO’s third recommendation and disagreed with the other two. While GAO modified one recommendation in response to the Service’s comments, GAO retained all three to encourage program completion, accountability, and transparency.

The goal of the National Reassessment Process is to ensure that all employees in modified work assignments are performing work that is both suitable to their medical restrictions and necessary to the Service’s mission. Among other things, the program aims to eliminate what Service officials call “make–work” assignments which, over time, occurred when factors such as increasing automation and declining mail volumes reduced the amount of manual, sedentary, and useful work available for these employees to perform. The number of employees reassessed under the program is not readily available nationwide because the Service does not aggregate district data. However, on September 30, 2008, there were 31,044 employees in modified work assignments, all of whom may have been reassessed under the program.

What GAO Found
The program is being implemented in three phases in the Service’s 74 districts. In Phase 1, the Service ensures that all employee medical records are current, and categorizes the employees based on their medical status. In Phases 2 and 3, the Service attempts to find each employee medically suitable and necessary work. If successful, the Service provides these employees with modified work assignments. However, when suitable work is not available, employees become eligible for wage loss compensation (workers’ compensation). Specifically, because employees in Phase 2 have reached their maximum medical improvement, they are not expected to return to work for the Service and, thus, may receive workers’ compensation indefinitely, whereas Phase 3 employees are eligible for workers’ compensation for only the number of hours they cannot work for the Service. Initially, the Service implemented each phase of the program sequentially; however, in July 2009, it began allowing some districts to conduct Phases 2 and 3 concurrently to expedite the program’s completion. The Service has not established milestones for completing the program, but, according to Service officials, they expect the program to be fully implemented by September 30, 2010.

After 3 years, none of the Service’s districts had completely implemented the program, and implementation in most is far from complete. Available data on employee outcomes are limited and preliminary because implementation is ongoing, and the Service does not track employees who receive medically suitable and necessary work—the goal of the program. The Service achieves program cost savings when, for example, employees return to full duty, retire, resign, or perform modified work assignments. However, when suitable work is not available, some employee outcomes could increase the Service’s short- and long-term costs for workers’ compensation. For the year ending June 30, 2009, workers’ compensation costs totaled about $1.1 billion and, in 2008, the Service estimated that its future liability for these costs totaled about $8 billion. The Service reported to the Congress that the program saved $146 million in fiscal year 2008. However, the Service did not disclose that these reported savings reflect neither the Service’s total gross savings nor its net savings, nor any other limitations in its cost estimation methodology.

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13 thoughts on “GAO: USPS National Reassessment Program For Injured Employees Needs Improvement

  1. I feel that while all able body r awaiting the worker n question to leave you all should b thinking about what’s next for u if the big boys r able to get rid of them something is coming down the line for u the Po I’d trying to take control of the company at the wrong time and n the wrong way if they down size those dumb azz leaders and out people n place to grow the company maybe it can get to where it should b managment is the problem when they realize that u can’t lead without leaders then they correct the problem and grow


  3. Look…none of you dopes know anything about this! I have had employees go through this bullshit process and management has PROTECTED THEIR BUDDIES! They have given all the so-called “necessary work” positions to their friends. Employees with “legitimate” injuries are out on the street…collecting 40 hours a week pay at 66 – 75% TAX FREE! So put that in your pipe and smoke it you friggin’ morons! The Postal Service is run by a bunch of dopes from Potter all the way down!

  4. Mr. Tull I’m more than appauld at your response. I’m one of those injured workers who had an abundance of sl, and never thought for one day that I’d be sick, injured nor off the job for any particular reason. Yes, I was a keyer for more than 25 years, at which time I began to experience severe difficulties with my hands needless to say I did suffer from a medical condition call Raynaud’s, which the keying caused great aggravation. Yes the Postal Service has placed me in a modified job, but guess what “even with my condition being as severe as it is, I’m still coming to work daily as much as possible. Nor have I spent one day out depending on disability, or OWCP. Being healthy is a blessing, and should not be taken for granted under any circumstances. Just hope nothing never happens to you. Who knows you might be one of the people who’s claiming an injury, one day. In other words don’t count yourself out….

  5. Management told me that if I couldn’t do the route to retire so guess what I retired right before they told me this they took my assigned route from right under me but no regrets or animosity I feel 100% better that I left it all behind I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone and now the PM calls from time to time to tell me about whats been happening in the office as of late they simply do not have the man power to do what they did before and he is attempting to bring me back to which I told him with my three blown disc in my neck not a chance in hell am I going back.
    Seems as though a lot of folks were just like me cracking jokes making fun of the IOD but guess what I was like a lot of you and now find myself with three blown disc in my neck and retired after 21years with the PO and the pain everyday I am not looking for sympathy and I do not need it.
    I would rather take back all I said and did to those IODs then go though what I have been going though.
    So remember and I am sure alot of you are good folks that to have a little fun now and then at the expense of IODs is not good and remember it may come back and bite you in the ass…
    KARMA she is a bitch !!!!

  6. The Post Office thinks it’s cost effective to spend $8 billion for OWCP (workers compensation benefits) for employees they say can’t work, because there is nothing available within their medical limitations.

    These OWCP employees are getting an extended paid vacation, while the remaining employees have to pick up the slack for the removed employee, because of the hiring freeze.

    The Post Office is filled with uneducated managers, who make stupid management decisions. Stupid is as stupid does…they all must be related to Forest Gump.

  7. there was indeed a sweep in the pacific area. so now lets see people cheered and clapped when limited duty people were escorted out. speaks to the evil nature of the postal employee. overheard a shop steward complaining that since management got rid of all the handicap employees now management expected the able bodied employees to make up the difference. all those jobs that didn’t look like they were needed to be done (i suspect people were basicly jealous they couldn’t do it and desperately wanted a break from those machine and do those clip board jobs)are now not being done and the impact of these jobs not being done was swift and very revealing: perhaps maybe those shiftless, lazy, don’t want to work fake injury people really were adding to the overall day to day processing of the mail and the goal of moving mail. the people who work at the post office are just pawns in managements effort to always blame the employee for anything that looks bad, never themselves. management made a national agreement to provide work to injured employees and now that they don’t like how it turned out they tried to make injured employees the villians of how the post office was loosing money and wanted to renig on a prior agreement. the agreement should have never been made or some sort of time frame should have been added to it no recovery in a year your outta here instead of letting it go on for 20 years. i am sure the people who were sent home in time will eventually recover they may have lost everything, they may see that perhaps this wasn’t as bad as people keep saying it would be. but be sure that if the post office has it’s way now that they have this one problem taken care of the excessing is sure to come and you people won’t be able to blame limited duty employees.

  8. In the Pacific area they went after all rehabs with the intent of getting rid of them, even know some were in bid jobs performing 100% of the required work. When mangers asked who was going to perform the this work, upper management had no answers especially since they all knew there was no replacing these employees be cause of the nation wide hiring freeze. But you can bet there PFP was raised based on the number of employees they removed from the regular payroll. These mangers didn’t care that some of the employees lost there homes or were made home less due to the low disability payment the received form DOL. Some of these employees had to go to there Doctors and demand they be returned to full duty even though the employee and doctor knew different. I know employed you have gone to the family doctor for medical care for on the job injuries this includes surgeries, all the time denying to there insurance co that it was a on the job injury, of course this is what happens when you threaten the livelihood of postal employees and there families. Then you have the OIG and Postal inspectors following these ex employees around trying to film them doing work outside the restrictions so they can take them to federal court and take away there measly disability payments while at the same time denying them work they would prefer to do, and you want to know why postal employees are disgruntled and resort to violence to make a statement.

  9. I understand the rehab process. Problem is the people who can’t perform their job anymore who now have their sights set on performing permanent busy work. We had a ‘forever’ one and she retired. Now, the next laziest in line has produced more severe medical that he now can’t even drive except back and forth to work. My speculation is that he his eyes set on taking over the now vacated ‘do-nothing’ job. Just because you work here the postal service is not responsible for every ache that you have. You are out in the world the other 16 hours of the day. Unless you’re getting into your plastic bubble at home I’m pretty skeptical.

  10. What about the affect on the Service ? Many of these people were performing necessary yet unclassified functions that are, either no longer being done, except sporadically, or were theoretically turned over to lower management who simply do not have the time to do correctly. Many of the interior functions of the post office are falling apart such as answering the phone, customer forwarding problems, equipment maintenance, and carrier questions and issues. Lowering costs iif not done judiciously, can also lower the proverbial boom on the service you are trying to provide. Satelite offices are not all the same so the issuance of ” blanket ” policies can have a severe and detrimental effect of the performance of the operative capabilities of the given office.

  11. over half of these supposed injured people were hired in the conditions they claimed were cause by the job.most wer to lazy and wanted to sit on their arses. some talk about getting disability so they can go home and not do anything. I broke my ankle and sat at a table with two . who refuse to do any thing claiming injury to hands when told to do remark. refuseing to stand while doing Ubbm, no being able to carry anything . but when it came to lunch they would volunteer to go pick up food from differennt restaurants and pick up cases of soda for the suporvisors. Nothing was said to them when they would do there gopher jobs, they want to sit at the computer all day and surf the net. when one injury doesnt work they fake another, if OWCP would do their job and investigate some who have been doing this for over 20 plus years they could bust these creaps. they are leaches and give all of the employees a bad name and a reason not to give 100 percent. listen to the employees.they know who the shirkers are!

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