A detail assignment is the temporary placement of a career employee in another established position that is vacant or from which the incumbent is absent. U.S. Postal Service policy requires detail assignments to be made only for the shortest period of time necessary and used to meet emergencies caused by an abnormal workload, a change in mission or organization, or unanticipated absences.
The controller’s policy in Handbook F-15, Travel and Relocation, requires documented justifications and focuses on the financial impact of detail assignments. Employee Resource Management’s policy in Handbook EL-312, Employment and Placement, requires only the completion of a Postal Service Form 1723, Assignment Order, and focuses on the temporary placement and hiring of employees.
The Postal Service plans to begin implementing a fully automated tracking system to track detail assignments and associated costs. The system will be phased in from 2015 to 2017.
Our objective was to follow up on the Postal Service’s progress in managing detail assignments, associated travel costs, and consistency of detail assignment policies based on recommendations made in our prior audit of Management of Detail Assignments (Report Number DP-AR-13-006, dated May 23, 2013).
What The OIG Found
While the Postal Service areas have the ability to manually monitor detail assignments, the areas and headquarters do not have a comprehensive tracking system. Specifically, cost issues have precluded Employee Resource Management from obtaining an automated employee detail assignment tracking system.
Corporate Personnel Management recorded from June through December 2013 about $17.8 million spent on travel related to detail assignments. However, there are no controls in place to validate that the amount is complete and accurate because management is unable to determine if employees on a detail assignment are selecting the detail assignment dropdown field in the eTravel system as required by policy. Additionally, inconsistencies remain in Postal Service detail assignment policies.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended the chief Human Resources officer and executive vice president implement an interim tracking system this fiscal year for detail assignments and associated travel costs, before phasing in the automated system by 2017.