July 5, 2013 (Report Number HR-AR-13-002)
Many of the U.S. Postal Service’s initiatives to address its financial challenges have resulted in workforce changes, which have contributed to an increase in overtime usage. At the request of the Postmaster General, we looked at why overtime workhours have been increasing and how the Postal Service manages workhours. The Postal Service uses overtime workhours to provide flexibility and meet its operational requirements without increasing overall staffing levels. Our audit report found opportunities for tighter controls on overtime usage.
Our report focused on three districts with the highest overtime rates during the past 5 years, and one district where employees received the highest overtime dollars. In this latter district, the Postal Service paid seven mail handlers between $65,000 and $76,000 each for overtime workhours in FY 2012, resulting in their salaries more than doubling. Overall, overtime hours accounted for more than 7 percent of total workhours in both FYs 2011 and 2012 – a rate well above the Postal Service’s target rate of 5 percent. Our report determined the Postal Service incurred significant overtime workhour use primarily because workforce was not aligned with workload; inadequate supervisory oversight; and mail arrived late at the delivery units, which resulted in carriers having to wait to begin work and then needing overtime to deliver. Overtime costs were high in one district because a union agreement negotiated at the local level paid workers extra money for overtime hours worked after 5:15 PM. We recommended management:
- Establish a plan to address staffing vacancies and better align the workforce to workload;
- Require officials at identified mail processing facilities and delivery units to implement plans to better align mail arrival times and carrier schedules;
- Require supervisors to monitor carrier workload and conduct street supervision; and
- Pursue changes to local agreements in the district we visited.