• on Jun 6th, 2011 in Labor | 24 comments
    It happens many times . . . a company invests time and money into training employees only to have them leave soon after the training is complete. Some industries and companies now have contractual agreements requiring employees to repay training costs to their employers if they separate from employment before a specified period. Congress has also passed legislation requiring continued service agreements from government employees who have received extensive training. These contracts obligate employees to continue working for the agency (or another government agency, depending on their employer’s policy) for a period at least equal to three times the length of the training. If the employee leaves government service before the agreed-upon service time, the agency has the right to require repayment for the amount of time not served. Private sector industries such as information technology, airline, and trucking are also requiring employees to sign these types of agreements. One company requires employees to sign contracts for training programs that are considered expensive and time intensive. The company uses a formula that equates one month of labor for every $1,000 of costs; for example, a $7,000 course would require a seven month commitment.

    The U.S. Postal Service employs approximately 40,000 maintenance craft employees to work in a variety of assignments. Some of these assignments, such as maintenance mechanics, require specific training at great cost to the Postal Service. For example, one training course lasts 13 days and costs $3,325 per employee.

    Should employees receiving specialized training sign contracts to remain with the Postal Service for a specified period so that the cost of providing the training can be recouped? Should employees who received training be permitted to leave for more lucrative positions in the private sector as soon as they are certified without compensating the Postal Service? Should such restrictions apply to all Postal Service employees who receive specialized training?

    This blog is hosted by the Office of Audit's Network Processing team.
  • on Apr 4th, 2011 in Labor | 13 comments
    Consumer needs for postal services are changing quickly resulting in the U. S. Postal Service developing a plan to right size the workforce. New Postmaster General and CEO Pat Donahoe announced on March 24 that the Postal Service plans to enact the Reduction in Force (RIF) and Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) processes with the goal of eliminating 7,500 administrative, supervisory, and postmaster positions. Additionally, the Postal Service will cut the number of vice president level officers by 16 percent and eliminate the senior vice president position. Since 2007, the Postal Service has sponsored a number of recruitment and retention initiatives. One initiative identified critical needs in finance, supply management and engineering. Other efforts included the revamping of the Corporate Succession Planning process and the formation of a Leadership Development and Talent Management group in Human Resources. As the Postal Service continues to right size, one question remains: How can it develop a strategy to retain needed talents and attract new ones for its future, especially in a time when it is focusing on cost cutting? What does the Postal Service need to do to retain, develop, and attract future workers? Let us know what you think!
  • on Feb 22nd, 2011 in Labor | 35 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] A [/dropcap]sk postal employees about the Postal Service’s Pay-for-Performance (PFP) program and you’ll hear a wide range of opinions as to why they think the program is not working. Many believe the program is unfair and can be subject to manipulation, The IBM Center for The Business of Government, Dr. Carl DeMaio, president of the Performance Institute, Dr. David Norton, president of the Palladium Group and co-founder of the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, and organizational performance guru Jay Schuster cited the Postal Service’s PFP program as a model because it links individual contributions to organizational success. According to Postal Service officials, the PFP program’s foundation is a balanced scorecard of objective, independently verifiable measures of service, employee engagement, and financial performance. Performance indicators are measured at national, district, business unit, and individual levels. In its 2010 Comprehensive Statement of Postal Operations and Annual Report, the Postal Service stated the PFP program continued to drive organizational achievement as measured by a 2.2 percent increase in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in 2010 compared to 2009.This marked the ninth year of positive TFP growth since 2000. The current PFP program evolved over a 12-year period and became the only basis for annual salary increases and lump sum awards for executive and administrative employees beginning in 2004. In implementing its PFP program, the Postal Service joined the ranks of many private sector firms where pay for performance is a standard feature for management and executives. In September 2010, many readers commented on our blog about the Postal Service’s PFP program. Comments expressed various opinions and perspectives about the program. Some said the PFP program is “broken” because it’s easy for postal management to manipulate. Others say PFP would be a great thing if the goals were reasonable and within the control of the manager. Many suggested scrapping the program altogether for a variety of reasons. For example, some said established goals are unrealistic and are changed often throughout the year so you end up chasing a moving target; others that the reporting system has no accountability factor and results are falsified; and still others that the ratings are changed or manipulated even when goals are achieved so that you get less of a raise. The OIG plans to initiate a review of the Postal Service’s PFP program. We would like to hear more about your thoughts on the subject. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Human Resources and Security Audit Team.

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