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 (31)

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  • anon

    OT costs could be reduced in the GreenvillySC P&DC if management would follow MH contracts and use mandated OT on a rolling list instead of mandating every regular and mha EVERY night. It is mid March 2020 and so far this year I have been mandated overtime every day that I have been scheduled to work. Plus mandated to work one of my off days a majority of weeks. There are many nights where we have so many people here on overtime and no workload to warrant the number of OT present that we are standing around waiting on mail sometimes more than an hour. It’s wearing people out without getting any value out of it. Very poor management that will tell you they don’t care what they are doing to employee’s morale or health. But yet they are guaranteed their two days off every week and if they don’t get them, they call out to get them.

    Mar 12, 2020
  • anon

    Complaining about Over time?????? Do you know what its like in the private sector?? Over time doesn't exist. No one pays OT Every one hires a million part time employees that work 15 to 20 hours a week. Thus no need to pay over time at a $40 $50 dollar rate they just pay the part timers $15 an hour no benefits no unemployment to pay. 1/3 of my previous company quit when overtime was banned. The other thing that's fashionable in the private sector naming some one store or assistant manager paying them 39 k a year. Then setting there budget short 25 hrs. So they have to work an extra 25 hrs a week just to keep the store opened. working 65 hours a week for an $800 pay check $600 after taxes and deductions. So they are the boss manager of the store basically makes less than $9 an hour. Be careful what you wish for. I have been working 60 hrs a week since I graduated college. I made very good money but I was never but I was never compensated a penny for any work over 40 hours. If you complain about over time today. You are going to dread the day when you post office hires 6 part times for 90 hours and OT disappears forever.

    Mar 07, 2020
  • anon

    My comment is an it is a no brain you do the math just think what a full time regular is making with 15plus yrs on top of working overtime everyday & have to work there drop day.As we know that is all double time and they have been working this way since the Overtime freeze was lifted several years ago this here shows that it is differently NOT enough workers at station or plant you would save so much overtime if u hire some new employees at base pay and it will cut out lots of unnecessary OVERTIME. The sad thing is you think people are enjoying working 6day 10hrs plus hrs and sometimes 12hrs a day since the overtime freeze been lifted this is crazy but this is further from the truth and we speak about family time how can u if your life is nothing but work and your to tired to do anything else at home this really has made it a toxic workplace here in Delaware Employees are at each other's throats because there being worked crazy at station and u wonder why people are calling off alot or ready to quit or find other work because they have know life .You can't be mad at them because know one took this job to feel like there in a 3rd world country working themselves to death. We also know 2-3months out of the year we will all work crazy hrs that's understandable but the rest of the year should not be like this .Also all employees are not Money hungry it is a easy fix workers are feeling trapped and feel like know one cares You guys can fix this major problem just look where overtime is more out of control then it should be and fix the problem hire some help hire some help PSE'S that what's needed

    Feb 26, 2020
  • anon

    Complaining about OT????? Madness it doesn't exist in the private sector. If you work it you don't get paid for it. And double time???? I don't know anyone who makes double time... Be careful what you wish for. Ot is a blessing to people who work there ass off. It a hindrance to people who are lazy. Who have never worked in the private sector. And people who spend their days wondering what everyone else is doing how much work they do. Who cares do your job and go home.

    Mar 07, 2020
  • anon

    Let's not mention the riding of the clock... or the abuse of using grievances to get paid for doing nothing: for work that a clerk does not truly want to be scheduled to do and turns down the opportunity to be scheduled more. Grievances do not necessarily serve the purpose they should... paying somebody when there is no proof that they truly lost work time because of other crafts doing the work is absurd.

    Feb 24, 2020
  • anon

    I'm from Puerto Rico. Here management force us to work overtime everyday even if you are not on ODL. I have been working excessive OT, sometimes more than 12hrs and penalty (5th day). They schedule you to work on your designated n\s. Any advice on what can I do, if anything? Thank you.

    Feb 15, 2020
  • anon

    Yes I work at Dallas NDC and for the 2 week they push our hours back trying not to pay us overtime. Now for December they are saying they are going to do it again when it no penalty. On our application I signed for say 5-1:30 and they are need us because they are not fully staffed to work the mail. It time were we are leaving at 330 am were they forced us to come in at 7pm. They will be still working on priority so they dont have to pay us overtime. Our normal hours ate 5-1:30 at 3:30 thats two hours overtime it no reason why they cant be paying us overtime when the work is here and they are focusing us Pse to work just 8 hours. Management are using their power focus people to work just to keep from paying us overtime and the regular are getting the overtime but not getting the job done we are the 1. All year they have cut our hour when they have needed our help some of us are single parents trying to prove for other children. Our union isnt letting us know why they are not stopping this bullying interning with our life hood by messing up our income. If they keep this going that means no Christmas for my children because Bills come first and I am back broke because of focus of working hour when all year regular have been getting overtime and the cut our hours move our time to come and just so they dont have to pay us overtime. This is not right what can you do to help us get the proper hours and overtime paid we worked hard for.

    Nov 29, 2019
  • anon

    As a 14 yr veteran carrier, who also worked as a 204B for 2 1/2 years, and was the head trainer at our station with an 80-90% retention rate, I would say the biggest problem is lack of staff. I am not on any OTDL, and yet get mandated constantly as if I were on a list. We need to seasonally staff up in advance at even $14hr, keep them below 30 or 32 hrs a week so no benefits until chance for conversion, train them to be efficient carriers ( not just 3 days if more is needed), etc... I'm not talking about 5 people at a time. I'm talking more like 10-15 per station. That way hours can be evenly dispersed, 8 and 40s can be covered, overtime pay would be at $21 hr vs say $45 hr because you paid a veteran carrier. You could use 2 different shifts-Regular employees 6-2:30pm, then part-timers 3-7 or something. (Parcel delivery, 3 hrs worth of bumps, etc...) Then, carriers would get their days off, their evenings with their families for the most part, and everybody would be happier, more productive, and fewer accidents because we wouldn't be on constant burnout. Of course, the other biggest issue that causes problems is lack of vehicles. We can't have backup staff without backup vehicles. A $45 tank of gas goes a lot further than a carrier in an hour, and taking the burden of large parcels off of the carriers would safe alot of time and money.

    Nov 16, 2019
  • anon

    I am the senior clerk on the flat sorter, and work overtime a lot. The problem is, other employees who have not been assigned overtime work simply go into the break room or walk around the building getting paid the same wage as me but doing no work. This goes for PSE’s too... and management turns a blind Eye to their friends’ thievery. That’s the ONLY way overtime can be 44% and 126% over allocation.

    Oct 18, 2019
  • anon

    Part of the issue with O/T is that you are bringing in very efficient mail carriers at a later time than needed. When the weather gets colder and the packages increase, it takes longer to deliver mail in the dark. This is a very simple fix but no one seems to be addressing the problem. It would cut down on overtime tremendously.

    Oct 08, 2019
  • anon

    Does this include overtime pay at the end of the quarter because management failed to do ODL tracking? I got 48 hours of overtime pay last winter for doing nothing.

    Sep 02, 2019
  • anon

    i work in a post office , my hour each down is only 4-5 hours. how can you make income with 20 hours, almost passed probation, want to leave here soon, not stable enough

    Aug 18, 2019
  • anon

    It would be helpful if you gave us a breakdown on where the OT existed. city carriers full time, CCA's, rural carriers(if any) RCA's...Clerks full time, clerks part time... Plants (broken down) ,etc. Then you could take a sampling of the different categories and find the stumbling blocks... Betcha that the reduction of plants led to longer distances between operations. Betcha that deliveries between operations had more delays (weather) traffic, breakdowns) which impact overtime at plants... Betcha these delays and reduction of employees at plants led to further delays to post offices. And betcha clerk overtime and carrier overtime at po's has also exploded because on plants not following IOP's.... Curious to see your report when finished...

    Aug 03, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you all for your comments on this blog. The OIG has varioius audit teams that address concerns and issues related to mail processing. The teams will consider your comments and determine whether any future audit work is warranted. If you have encountered any fraud, waste, or misconduct, please file a complaint with our Hotline. You can access the online complaint form by clicking on the red “Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse” block at the top of this page. This will allow us to look into the matter for you. We review the information received to identify systemic and potential areas for postal-wide reviews.

    Jul 29, 2019
  • anon

    Level 18 offices. Postmasters are to work continuous 15 hour clerk work during the week. No more and preferably no less. Postmasters would prefer to pay clerks to work overtime and/or out of schedule to avoid their working clerk work. Reporting on 1260 is often falsified. Clerks are not going to complain, they are making the overtime. However, if the postmasters in these offices actually worked their 15 hour clerk work each week. The clerks would not be getting the overtime.

    Jul 23, 2019
  • anon

    It would be a really good If you guys would take a look at these responses because they all make sense in some shape or form. And it is all postal workers who are reaching out who are the 1st line of defense remember if Supervisor or Post Master or Management can't cut the OT down then send someone in over them who can This is all Doable The Post Office have some loyal employees but are human beings and are tired of being worked like a Dog they are tired of being ran into the ground because you guys are forcing them to work that word FORCE should rub every worker the wrong way I know It rub me the wrong way Because if you have to do this day in and day out and force people to work after tour before tour & work there drop day yes even the people who are on the list ODL are forced and pretty much have to beg go be off on there assigned day off sad clearly, clearly this is a big problem and there's only 1 things to do to solve it hire some Pse's or PTF or make more people regular which should happen The Post Office will never save money paying OT to veterans employees like this and u just make it miserable for them to come to work again not aways about the money family time is valuable to people to thank you hope you guys work on this stuff like yesterday.

    Feb 28, 2020
  • 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

    Wow you’re a real genius. Managers like you are the problem. Former entry level employees who get in postal management jobs without any experience and then try to run an organization this size.

    Sep 02, 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

    I know about fraud in two offices. Not gonna say. But ive also heard its literally in every office. Time sheets. Overtime. Being not reported. Faked lower milages on extra trip sheets Even faked signatures. Of employees signing off on lower milage.

    Dec 16, 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

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