Our objective was to assess the U.S. Postal Service’s employee background screening process in the San Francisco, Bay-Valley, and Sierra Coastal districts to determine whether they ensured individuals selected for employment were suitable to maintain the safety and security of the mail and uphold public trust in the Postal Service.
We selected the San Francisco, Bay-Valley, and Sierra Coastal districts because they had the highest turnover rates for employees of the eight districts in the Pacific Area.
The Postal Service’s background screening process involves four key groups: the Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC), a Postal Service contractor, district Human Resources (HR) officials, and the Postal Inspection Service. Both career and non-career employees are subject to the same background screening process.
At a high level, the hiring process includes pre-screening, where information is gathered to gauge the candidate’s suitability. Then there is an interview process, where an initial hiring decision is made. With a favorable initial decision, the applicant undergoes a more in-depth background screening to validate that information provided is accurate. Upon receipt of those results, management either upholds or rescinds the hiring decision.
In fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017, these districts hired 14,443 career and non-career employees. We evaluated a statistical sample of 225 employees, 221 of whom were non-career employees and four of whom were career employees.
What the OIG Found
San Francisco, Bay-Valley, and Sierra Coastal district HR officials did not consistently comply with background screening processes. Key documentation substantiating whether employees received complete background screenings prior to hiring during FYs 2016 and 2017 was missing. Specifically, we found:
- Thirteen percent (30 of the 225) of the pre-employment investigative files — or 1,877 projected over the universe — were missing.
Of the 195 files we reviewed:
- Thirty (15 percent or 2,166 projected over the universe) of the available files did not contain an Interview Sheet, which documents the interviewer’s notes.
- Thirty (15 percent or 2,166 projected over the universe) of the available files did not contain the Interview Checklist, which documents the interviewer’s hiring recommendation.
- Ninety-eight (50 percent, or 7,221 projected over the universe) of the available files did not contain the Post-Offer Checklist, which certifies that all post-offer activities, including confirmation that the applicant meets suitability requirements, have been completed and met.
In addition, Postal Service officials could not provide evidence that electronic National Agency Check with Inquiries (eNACI) were conducted for 70 employees, 33 of whom are actively employed by the Postal Service. The eNACI process verifies the employee’s FBI criminal history check, employment history, criminal conviction history, education, references, and residence.
In 155 of the 225 eNACI certificates we reviewed (69 percent), four showed that employees were hired by management even though the Inspection Service determined they were not suitable for employment. At the time of this audit, the Postal Service still employs one of the four, but not the other three.
These conditions occurred because district HR officials are not validating that Certificates of Completion are being uploaded into eOPF and there is no oversight mechanism from the district HR generalist/manager to ensure this process is complete.
When Certificates of Completion are not maintained in eOPF, the Postal Service cannot validate the accuracy of the information provided to determine an individual’s suitability for employment. In addition, Certificates of Completion may identify potential disqualifying factors, which hiring officials need to make informed hiring decisions.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management develop internal controls to ensure that pre-employment files are established and that all required pre-employment documents are maintained in the files in accordance with policy. We also recommended management implement an oversight process to ensure that district HR officials are validating that Certificates of Completion are in employees’ eOPFs and assess the need for conducting new eNACIs for the 33 missing Certificates of Completion.