Federal law enforcement officers (LEO) engage in rigorous physical duties necessary to conduct investigations and apprehend criminals. LEOs may also hold secondary supervisory or administrative positions. As a result, LEOs are eligible for special retirement coverage, such as retiring at an earlier age than other federal employees. However, LEOs must generally complete at least 20 years of service by age 57 to receive this benefit.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) oversees agency retirement coverage but has authorized agency heads to designate LEO positions. Agency heads are required to notify OPM of these designations and OPM has the authority to overrule the agency’s decision.
The U.S. Postal Service designated the [redacted] in [redacted] 2013, a LEO position and changed the title to [redacted], in [redacted] 2015.
This advisory responds to a concern brought to our attention that this newly designated position does not qualify for federal LEO retirement benefits. Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service followed applicable federal regulations for designating a LEO position for purposes of retirement coverage.
What The OIG Found
The Postal Service did not follow applicable federal regulations to designate this LEO position in [redacted] 2013. Specifically, the Postal Service did not properly notify OPM of the designation. Instead, the Postal Service notified OPM informally via email of the designation. In addition, the Postal Service did not have policies in place for designating positions as LEO. Such policies should ensure that OPM is properly notified of LEO designations. As a result, there is increased risk the Postal Service will not timely learn of an improper designation. In addition, the Postal Service could be subject to legal or administrative consequences for failing to properly notify OPM.
Subsequent to the exit conference, the Postal Service provided supporting documentation showing they notified OPM, and OPM retroactively approved the PMG’s designation of the [redacted], as a LEO position. Consequently, we are not making a recommendation regarding this LEO designation.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended management update the appropriate Postal Service manual or handbook to reflect the newly implemented policies and procedures for designating law enforcement officer positions.