• on Jul 27th, 2009 in Labor | 61 comments
    Should the Postal Service be allowed to freely award employees for a job well done? The Postal Service operates as a businesslike entity, but it is also part of the government. Appearances count — particularly in tough economic times. The Postal Service has an interest in recruiting and retaining talented employees to remain competitive, but what is appropriate? Competitors of the Postal Service are free to award employees with pricey gifts, tickets to major events, conferences held at resorts and other perks. These are rarely subject to scrutiny by Congress or provoke significant comment in the media. The Postal Service also uses incentives to reward employees for good job performance. While most Postal Service awards have been modest, Postal Service managers have authorized designer watches, espresso machines, global positioning systems, box seat tickets to sporting events, and personal computers as awards for their employees. Tell us what you think about spending of this type. Is this acceptable spending for the Postal Service? How should the Postal Service recognize employees' good performance during these tough economic times? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Suspicious Expenditures team.
  • on Jun 22nd, 2009 in Labor | 14 comments
    It takes a lot of digging to find a positive Hollywood portrayal of postal employees. From Cheers’ Cliff Clavin to Seinfeld’s Newman, TV and the movies have not always portrayed postal employees in the most favorable light. Even Mr. Rogers’ postman sidekick, Mr. McFeeley, was seldom seen actually delivering any mail. “Going postal” was coined and seemed to be a recurring Hollywood theme in the 1990’s, when the movie mills cranked out “Jingle All The Way,” with Sinbad playing a crazed letter carrier, and “Postal Worker”, which portrayed the entire agency as a simmering pot of twisted individuals. And who can forget, “Zarkorr! The Invader,” the Godzilla rip-off, where a Newark postal worker was tasked with fighting this monster — almost as bad as facing a full set of circs (flyers) on a Tuesday after a Monday holiday. What’s at stake? If he fails, the world will be destroyed. There are exceptions. The mail itself is often treated affectionately. The happy ending to Miracle on 34th Street (1947) hinges on the delivery of letters to Santa. In The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan work side by side but fall in love through the mail. The Postal Inspectors have also had a good run of positive films, starting in 1936 with Postal Inspector, featuring Bela Lugosi (yes, the same one who starred as Dracula), Appointment with Danger in 1951, and the more recent Showtime Inspectors movies with Lou Gossett and Jonathan Silverman.
    picture of Cliff from Cheers

    Unfortunately, postal employees on the big and small screen are most often portrayed as the Rodney Dangerfield types. No respect. Their heroic deeds of saving a life, or just doing their jobs without fanfare, are rarely aired. The majority of postal employees are dedicated, hard-working individuals. So how did this negative stereotype start? Why do you think postal employees get the short shrift on heroic roles? And what can be done to turn Hollywood around and point them in the right direction?

    This topic is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Apr 27th, 2009 in Labor | 156 comments
    Career employees earn 4 hours of sick leave for a full pay period (80 hours), or at a rate of 5 percent. Some career employees are currently taking sick leave at approximately the same rate, liquidating their leave bank. The Postal Service’s sick leave absence rate (absenteeism) was 4.3 percent in 2008. This seems high compared to the 1.1 percent rate the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for employees in the private sector and 1.7 percent rate for employees in the federal sector. So why was the Postal Service’s rate higher? A 2007 private sector survey by CCH Incorporated indicates two thirds (66 percent) of U.S. workers who take unscheduled sick leave do so for reasons other than physical illness, such as personal and/or family issues, stress, or entitlement. Is the Postal Service’s sick leave rate higher because employees call in sick for reasons other than physical illness?

    The Postal Service cannot ignore the $1.4 billion spent on sick leave last year and recognizes that the best person to do the job is the person hired for it rather than a replacement. The Postal Service identified approximately 35,000 employees in 2008 with 20 or more unscheduled absences. That means 5 percent of its employees have nearly one absence for every paycheck! What is the impact on morale to the other 640,026 career employees? Is there something the Postal Service can do to reduce the number of unscheduled absences? We’d like to know how you feel about these issues.

    Please take our survey.

    This blog topic is hosted by OIG Human Capital.

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