The Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944 mandates that federal government agencies give eligible veterans preference for custodian positions. Consequently, the U.S. Postal Service has designated four custodian positions for eligible veteran applicants: building maintenance custodian, custodian laborer, custodian, and laborer custodian.
The veterans’ preference requirement only applies to external hiring. The Postal Service’s Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC) and district personnel oversee hiring. The HRSSC creates job postings and publications, verifies entitlement to veterans’ preference claims, and conducts background checks and drug tests. District personnel identify hiring needs, conduct interviews, make final selections, and approve requests for reasonable accommodations.
In fiscal year (FY) 2015, 18 percent (113,000 of 625,113) of Postal Service employees were veterans. In December 2016, 1,580 veterans were employed in the Hawkeye District.
This report responds to a request from Congressman David Young of Iowa related to the Postal Service’s hiring of veterans for custodian positions in Des Moines. The congressman also expressed concerns about whether the Postal Service was providing disabled veterans with reasonable accommodations to perform custodian duties.
Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service complied with its policies and federal laws related to hiring preference-eligible veterans and reasonable accommodation requests for custodian positions in Des Moines. We also assessed whether the Postal Service complied with veterans’ preference requirements when considering applicants, retained a list of veteran applicants when trying to fill open custodian positions, and eliminated job classifications reserved for disabled veterans. The scope period includes FYs 2015 and 2016.
What the OIG Found
The Postal Service complied with applicable postal policies and federal law in hiring applicants for custodian positions and managing reasonable accommodation requests in Des Moines.
In FYs 2015 and 2016, the Postal Service hired 25 applicants as non-career custodians from 11 external announcements. Of the 25 hirees, three were preference-eligible veterans.
Policy states that once all veterans’ preference applicants are vetted and either deemed unqualified or extended a job offer, the Postal Service can consider non-veteran applicants.
Of the 11 preference-eligible veterans who applied:
- Three accepted job offers.
- Two declined job offers.
- Five did not pass the written exam.
- One was deemed non-responsive for not replying to emails from Human Resources.
The Postal Service is not required by law or policy to retain a list of veteran applicants outside the hiring process. However, the Postal Service does maintain an in-service register, which allows career employees to sign up and be considered for open custodian positions. The in-service register is applicable only to internal announcements.
The Postal Service also did not eliminate any job classifications reserved for disabled veterans or inappropriately manage reasonable accommodation requests from disabled veterans in FY 2015 or 2016. The Hawkeye District’s Reasonable Accommodation Committee approved 20 requests for reasonable accommodations, including three for veterans. But, no requests came from veterans currently employed as custodians.
Management hired preference-eligible veterans in Des Moines in accordance with applicable laws, policies, and procedures; therefore, we are not making any recommendations at this time.