Background

The U.S. Postal Service hires non-career employees to supplement its regular workforce and reduce staffing costs. Non-career employees are temporary workers who do not receive full employee benefits and privileges. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, the Postal Service employed an average of about 130,000 non-career employees.

The Postal Service has four crafts that constitute the non-career employee portfolio: (1) the mail handler assistant position that unloads and moves mail in plants, (2) the postal support employee position that processes mail and sells postage at post offices, (3) the city carrier assistant (CCA) position that delivers mail on designated city routes and (4) rural carrier associate position that delivers mail on designated rural routes.

In October 2014, the Postal Service created a CCA recruitment and retention strategy to provide field Human Resources staff, managers, and supervisors with resources and strategies for the recruitment and retention of CCAs.

In FY 2015, the Postal Service formed a joint Human Resources and operations team to evaluate turnover. Subsequently, the Postal Service created initiatives for FY 2016 to reduce turnover and improve training.

In FY 2015, non-career employee turnover cost the Postal Service about $95.1 million to hire and onboard replacements.

Our objective in this project was to assess non-career employee turnover and identify opportunities to optimize non-career staffing. Because the Postal Service needs a flexible workforce and is facing a tightening labor market, we may conduct further work on the strategic use of this key resource in the future.

What the OIG Found

Opportunities exist to reduce non-career employee turnover by addressing factors such as scheduling flexibility, physical demands of the job, and supervisory relationships that contributed to non-career employee turnover.

In FY 2016, the combined annual turnover rate for all four non-career crafts was 42.7 percent (monthly average of 3.6 percent), which did not meet the National Performance Assessment goal of 34.8 percent annually (2.9 percent per month). Leveraging best practices in establishing and implementing mentoring and training activities for all crafts could help reduce these high turnover rates.

Lastly, unit managers did not always review workhour reports and submit non-career separation forms timely. Consequently, 1,223 of 2,208 (55.4 percent) non-career separation forms were submitted from 1 to 38 days after employees separated and not the day of separation as required.

These conditions occurred because the Postal Service does not have a recruitment and retention strategy to help reduce attrition rates to sustainable levels and ensure all non-career crafts are appropriately mentored and trained. In addition, they did not ensure that areas and districts implemented mentoring and training activities outlined in the CCA strategic plan. Lastly, unit managers were not required to evaluate workhour reports to identify and timely remove separated employees.

If the turnover rate goal had been met, the Postal Service hiring and onboarding costs for FY 2016 would have been reduced by over $23 million. Furthermore, as the Postal Service converts many non-career employees to career employees, investments in mentoring and training would better prepare the employees for both current and future roles. Lastly, when a district or site reaches its maximum complement and does not remove separated employees from payroll, the system does not update to reflect a vacancy and replacements cannot be hired.

The Postal Service took corrective action by implementing a field onboarding program nationwide beginning October 1, 2016. This program will include pre-hire communication, employee orientation, on-the-job training for all crafts, and updated rural and city carrier academies. Therefore, we are not making any recommendations regarding training.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management establish a comprehensive non-career employee strategic plan for all crafts that addresses contributing factors identified by Postal Service data and an oversight process to ensure areas and districts implement retention activities. We also recommended management institute formal requirements for unit managers to evaluate workhour reports to identify and timely remove separated employees.

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Comments (9)

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  • anon

    I am not a postal worker but I know for a fact that management problems are HUGE in this area! I am trying to figure out how to get to the union. Working long hours with no end in sight and getting fussed at when you are so tired you cant even think straight. It is normal to work mon-sun with NO time off for weeks. This is torture. There is a lot of favoritism in this area. ESPECIALLY this post office. If you are friends or any relation to the post master....jobs aren't posted, they are handed out to family. Help isn't given. They don't care about their employees general health. Inspections need to be done ASAP on the post master. I've heard so many horror stories from regular and non regular carriers who are with WR and have left. Management needs a good spring cleaning. The union is oblivious to this. But what happens when multiple complaints start being filed? I can guarantee people will start getting fired. I don't know how they sleep at night doing the under handed things they do in this office.

    Mar 21, 2017
  • anon

    There is no way that a normal human being would put themselves through this torment for the amount you are offering them. In the Washington DC metro are you can not afford to have an apartment on that pay. Let's say you hire at a younger age group it will be a toss up, some of them live at home and money isn't the problem. The physical nature of the job and the verbal abuse by management and supervisors will break them down. They will up and leave with nowhere to go because they can. Now hire a slightly older age group and you get people who have responsibilities and what you offer is just not cutting it. Unpredictable schedules mixed with low pay is never going to be good for anyone. On top of that a toxic work environment filled with verbal abuse and threats doesn't help either. Wheaton post office Silver Spring, Md

    Jan 05, 2017
  • anon

    Is it fraud when a non postal employee contractor wears a postal uniform?

    Jan 03, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for letting us give our input. If you want to keep good employees make them career. A PTF is part time career and has a sense of belonging. If a non career employee works the day before and the day after a holiday give them holiday pay or at least a green card the day after to be paid fairly. Recognize good employees. Reward good employees. 95 million was spent on turnover in 2015, I wonder how much it would have cost to keep good workers? And how much would have been saved to do so. Have panels of non career crafts give input for retention issues and solutions. I would especially like to see non career employees who have many years invested be part of those panels. There are non career employees with over 10 years and that doesn't seem temporary to me. Show them that the Postal Service cares by giving them some sort of benefits. Thank you.

    Dec 30, 2016
  • anon

    As a recently converted CCA I'm still amazed at how either daft or dumb upper mgmt is at the PO. It's comical the way you're treated as a CCA. Now that I'm a regular, everyday I try and cost the PO more than I make. I call in sick 2 times a month. I usually go over an hour everyday so I'm getting OT on every paycheck. I refuse to participate in customer connect in anyway. Actually it's completely opposite and I will encourage customers on my route to not ship with USPS. I'm still hanging around because like I said mgmt is either daft or dumb. Mgmt has no ability to fire a terrible carrier. Honestly there is nothing mgmt can do if you don't wanna work hard so in that way the PO is alright if you're just gaming the system. I can easily do that for another year or two.

    Dec 29, 2016
  • anon

    Hired 10/2015- terminated 5/2016----- Wake Forest NC, Hired as a rural courier sub, Brought to a location and introduced to two supervisors, that did not give me an equal opportunity, trained under a long term employee that didn't allow me to be hands on because he does his preparation a certain way, within the 90 day probation, I was called out to standard mail, twice. The first was when I had no idea of what to do, not trained, than to help an employee because they fell behind. I extended my hand to help many, than was told that I was told by two supervisors that I was not cut out to be a rural courier, trying to force me to sign a paper. I denied and wouldn't sign paper, asked to have meeting with the acting postmaster, that would not meet with me, told at the time that I was not fired, but I needed to find a new location, I didn't know what to do, asked other locations that asked where did I come from, than held without assignment and pay for 5 months, than sent a termination paper with codes that I didn't understand. I felt cheated out of a career goal, that I bust my butt to get. They left me homeless because of they way they handled it, I was unable to get unemployment because it showed I was still employed. This ordeal set me so far back that I had to move back home with my parents, and I am 46yrs of age. I just want to find out who do I right to, and what can I do. I am qualified to be a postal employee, I can't help that I love helping people and I am courteous to all, my supervisors were threatened, after the Postmaster said in their face, that I was going to be their best rural courier.

    Dec 28, 2016
  • anon

    I am an instructor at the Pittsburgh District Office and the biggest problem we see is failure by the AO' s to properly structure the new hires OJI. The onboarding program is good but only provides fifty percent of.the required training and these associate offices need to be held accountable for the rest of the training or retention rates will still faulter. We have been trying to communicate this with them however ,some offices don't even know about the new program which I find disturbing . More required communication about the program and its implementation is needed!

    Dec 22, 2016
  • anon

    Oh let's see.....Crazy schedules and nasty bosses.......Gee...It sounds to me like a management problem....Management is NOT..get live bodies...don't train them, plug them in to fill holes...And when they don't perform like a veteran, just abuse the heck out of them...What a winning combination. Perhaps you should do an "Undercover Boss". Sending one of your people would accomplish 2 things. 1... See the problem 1st hand. 2...Would put your people in the actual shoes of those who actually handle the mail...It would be an eye opener for your folks..Nah...that would happen.....You'd have to get your hands dirty and LISTEN to the real people who make USPS the most trusted governmental agency in polls year after year.

    Dec 21, 2016
  • anon

    CCAS are treated horribly. I actually love the job but hate not ever seeing my family. I love people and can even deal with some of the hateful supervisors. It is not fair we are required to work every weekend both days and not ever knowing when your day off will be, until the night before you are off. We are told to take lunch, but it being before my 90 day probationary period I am afraid to because I won't have enough time to finish my route. I am halfway through and eery day I consider quitting at least once during the day. I am a fighter and want to see it through. Our shop srewards cannot do much because it isn't past our 90 days. A supervisor was real ugly to me one day for no reason and I didn't say anything but a regular employee did without my knowledge and the shop steward did handle the supervisor. I work in ws NC-WINSTON-SALEM and something should be done about the treatment of CCAS. Yes I understand paying our dues, but those before us didn't have to work every Sunday like we do.

    Apr 18, 2017