This sounds like a math problem on a standardized test: If the amount of mail processed in fiscal year (FY) 2018 declined by 5 billion pieces and total number of workers used to process mail declined by 5,000 career employees (with workhours also dropping by 4.3 million), how much did overtime costs decrease?

Answer: They didn’t. Overtime costs to process mail increased by $257 million (31 percent) in FY2018 from the previous year. What happened?

Our latest audit report looked at the U.S. Postal Service’s  management of mail processing overtime in FY18 and determined that the USPS did not effectively manage mail processing overtime costs in FY 2018. It planned for total mail processing overtime costs of about $732 million, but actually incurred $1.09 billion, a difference of 49 percent.

USPS uses overtime to give it flexibility in operations. But it must manage overtime efficiently, given its impact on costs. Overtime is paid at 1.5 times an employee’s hourly rate. Another category of overtime – penalty overtime – is paid, under specific conditions, at double the employee’s hourly rate.

The Postal Service planned for about 18.5 million overtime workhours and 767,000 penalty overtime workhours for FY 2018. The actual overtime workhours used were 26.7 million (44 percent over plan), and the actual penalty overtime workhours used were 1.7 million (126 percent over plan). This occurred, in part, due to implementation of an employee scheduling tool at the beginning of FY 2018, which we discovered needed some finetuning.

The Postal Service is currently rolling out an updated version of the scheduling tool that should better set the standards for employee schedules and complement levels.

Our report also cited opportunities to address management oversight to prevent unauthorized overtime, reduce grievances, and increase employee availability.

What thoughts or ideas do you have for helping to rein in overtime costs?

Comments (13)

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  • anon

    It doesn't matter how many pieces there are in a year when you are running an every piece, every day business. We allow folks to have discounts with the sole intention of the service being able to delay the delivery of their product and then spend hours of overtime loading machines for it to go out the day it arrives instead of balancing the load over time. Thus penalty one day and trying to find work for regulars the next and making a mockery of all those forms and reports that are supposed to be used to spread out the load

    Jul 14, 2019
  • anon

    I feel Saturday mail deliveries to offices should stop. Most of the time no one is here to accept the mail. It takes the carriers time to shove the mail under each door if there is not a mail slot available. This may help cut down on hours and overtime.

    Jul 11, 2019
  • anon

    Make use of overtime desired employees. Fully staff facilities. I understand (as a former Union President) that it’s cheaper for management to pay overtime than additional employee benefits, but in the long run, it makes for a much more efficient organization. Also, you mention decline in mail volume, but not the increase in parcel volume, which I can tell you was quite a lot the last several years. I was proud to have worked as a mail carrier and blessed to be able to retire under CRS. The constant erosion of craft employee benefits will have a negative effect, but perhaps that’s what higher ups with an interest in privatizing the USPS want?

    Jul 11, 2019
  • anon

    Postal Service also cut 10,000 jobs which seems penny wise and pound foolish and did not account for the overwhelming increase in parcels, only looking at the decrease in First Class Mail. Mail, no matter the type, still needs to be processed. So why is anyone surprised the OT and Penalty went well over estimates? It would make more sense and save tons of cents to pay straight time to a larger workforce then OT and Penalty to a smaller one. Raising the standard of hiring beyond a pulse and a negative urine test would help as well. Hire everyone as FTR’s from the start and get a more engaged workforce. Management keeps cutting off the legs of the table WE all sit at including them; pretty soon there won’t be a table for any of us.

    Jul 03, 2019
  • anon

    If workers were treated better they could possibly be able to hire more people. Split shifts with hours in between. Split shifts driving miles to get to your second location, 12 hours a day to get paid for 8 hours (if your lucky).

    Jul 03, 2019
  • anon

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    Jun 28, 2019
  • anon

    The USPS has been a horrible failure at enforcing leaving times for carriers. Cronyism is God, King and Queen in most large districts. How hard is it to walk up to a carrier, tap them on the shoulder, and make them tie down whatever their little time wasting game allowed them to throw into a route they have been casing for years, sometimes decades? DPS offenders should begin their walking paperwork after their third offence. What is the point of casing thousands of pre-sequenced pieces of mail (which cost a small fortune to sort) with the half dozen pieces of mail per block that came in with the residual? I can understand slow knees, bad backs, shoulders after some time in service, but the games in the office are just that multi-million dollar OT burning games.

    Jun 27, 2019
  • anon

    John Stewart, I doubt that you’ve carried mail. I had a negotiated dispensation to case my DPS for multiple medical reasons. My times on the street more than made up for time spent in the office casing DPS, especially while the whole office would be on waiting time for parcels or accountable mail. The difference between office and street time do relate. If you save office time with DPS, it most certainly will increase street time, especially as DPS is rarely, if ever perfect. 2+6=8 and so does 3+5=8. It took about 3 years of my 37 year career to realize that anything that can be be done in the office to decrease street time is ultimately more efficient.

    Jul 11, 2019
  • anon

    improper staffing ;Processing the proper mail on the correct machines,utilizing the barcode,. Flats, small china mail pieces, bundles,oversize mail pieces don't belong in mechanized equipment for sorting. A cutt off time should be in place so mail can make proper dispatch times, anything after that time is already late.

    Jun 25, 2019
  • anon

    overtime usage is high because management thinks they are saving money by we not having enough Drivers to handle all the runs so runs have to be broken up between other runs resulting in overtime then there are supervisors and employees who turn in 1260 after only working 8 hour for a 30 minute paid lunch. What is that fraud?

    Jun 24, 2019
  • anon

    There's so much overtime in our processing plant because of understaffing. There are supposed to be 2 clerks per machine to get the mail processed. Most of the time there's only 1 clerk per machine, taking double the time to process the mail.

    Jun 24, 2019
  • anon

    This would explain the roll down effect as to why trucks are late getting the mail to stations. All this wait time that is rolled down should be included. What is their problem solving with this issue later start times? and they wonder why carriers are delivering mail at 9 pm.

    Jun 28, 2019
  • anon

    The postal system regarding employees has gotten back, its sad how employees are treated and I mean the ones in the trenches. I think you need to get rid of the higher ups with the higher salaries and benefits. There you will save a lot more.

    Jun 24, 2019

Recent Comments

  • 1 day 6 hours ago
    It doesn't matter how many pieces there are in a year when you are running an every piece, every day business. We allow folks to have discounts with the sole intention of the service being able...
  • 3 days 19 hours ago
    Good Job ! ! I'm Always glad to see these crooks getting prison time , the corruption is rampant and costs every one of us . Keep up the good work !

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