USPS Could Have Save $4 Million
Excerpts from the USPS OIG report:
This report presents the results of our audit of Postal Service Absenteeism (Project Number 09YG016HM000). Our overall audit objective was to determine if the Postal
Service’s absenteeism rate is comparable with the rate of the private and federal sectors and, if not, to determine the potential causes. We were also asked to determine if sick leave usage by Postal Service employees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) was less than that of employees in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) who are 3 to 4 years from retirement. This report responds to a request from the Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer to review Postal Service absenteeism. This audit addresses financial risk
The Postal Service’s total absenteeism rate for major benefits is comparable to the total absenteeism rate of the federal sector, but higher than that of the civilian sector.1 We identified two potential causes for the difference between the Postal Service and the civilian sector absenteeism rates — the Postal Service offers more leave benefits than the civilian sector and they offer fewer incentives for employees to accumulate leave. In addition, we determined some supervisors were not complying with attendance control procedures related to unscheduled absences. We also determined that CSRS and FERS retirees use comparable amounts of sick leave in the last years before they retire
Comparison to Federal and Civilian Sectors
The Postal Service’s total absenteeism rate for major benefits2 is comparable to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) rate for federal employees. However, it was
almost double the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) rate for private industry and approximately 4 percent higher than the state and local government rate.3 The higher
absenteeism rates of the Postal Service and the federal sector may be due to the fact that, comparatively, they offer more leave benefits (more hours) and fewer incentives to employees to bank leave. We are not making any recommendations regarding these findings.
Controls Over Unscheduled Absences
We estimated supervisors did not comply with Postal Service policies and procedures regarding unscheduled absences for at least 11,468 employees nationwide. We
identified several causes, including lack of training, supervisors not using the Enterprise Resource Management System (eRMS) as the system of record for controlling
unscheduled absences, and insufficient oversight. In addition, Labor Relations indicated they did not have adequate resources to monitor attendance control. As a
result, overtime was used to cover 17.4 percent of the unscheduled sick leave4 and the Postal Service could have saved $4.0 million in overtime costs by following proper attendance control procedures during the 12-month audit period.5 Postal Service officials are responsible for administering the leave program and controlling
unscheduled absences, while its employees are responsible for avoiding these types of absences.6 Labor Relations professionals stated they provided supervisors with training on attendance control and advice on proper corrective actions; however, opportunities exist to improve oversight and reduce unscheduled absences.
We recommend the area vice presidents require district managers to:
1. Provide refresher training to supervisors to ensure they are aware of unscheduled leave policies and procedures and the importance of following them.
2. Establish and implement internal controls to evaluate and ensure supervisors’ compliance with unscheduled leave policies and procedures (for example,
performance and accountability measures or periodic management reviews).
3. Require supervisors and labor relations specialists to use the Enterprise Resource Management System to record employees’ inability to meet position requirements,
corrective actions taken, and grievance data.
Management generally agreed with the findings and recommendations. Specifically, seven of the eight areas agreed with all three recommendations. Great Lakes area
management agreed with recommendations one and two, but disagreed with recommendation three. They stated based on current Memorandums of Understanding
(MOUs) with various unions, supervisors, and labor relations specialists should not document corrective actions and grievance data in an open system, because this could
be viewed as a violation. Additionally, Eastern and Southeast area management commented on the accuracy of our monetary impact. Management’s comments, in their
entirety, are included in Appendix E. Some area vice presidents also provided extensive documentation that supports their corrective actions. Although we have not
included this information in this report, it is available upon request.
Evaluation of Management’s Comments
Overall, the OIG considers management’s comments responsive to the recommendations, and the corrective actions should resolve the issues identified in the
report. Regarding the Great Lakes area management’s disagreement to recommendation 3, we reviewed the MOUs in question and determined they do not
preclude management from implementing this recommendation. Additionally, the Privacy Act restricts disclosure of personally identifiable information by agencies and
prescribes penalties for improper disclosure. 7 Our recommendations are consistent with the routine uses contained in Postal Service policy, as all Postal Service
employees are responsible for protecting such information, and its use would not excuse improper dissemination that could arise from access and use.8
The OIG considers all three recommendations significant, and therefore requires OIG concurrence before closure. Consequently, the OIG requests written confirmation when corrective actions are completed. These recommendations should not be closed in the Postal Service follow-up tracking system until the OIG provides written confirmation that the recommendations can be closed.
see full report: USPS OIG Audit Report – Postal Service Absenteeism