The U.S. Postal Service uses overtime to provide flexibility and meet operational requirements. Overtime is a premium that nonmanagement employees receive for work performed in excess of 8 paid hours in a day or 40 paid hours in a week. Penalty overtime is paid at two times the hourly rate when an employee works overtime on more than 4 of their 5 scheduled days in a week or more than 6 days in a week or over 10 hours on a regularly scheduled day or over 8 hours on a non-scheduled day. On a quarterly basis, employees willing to work overtime can voluntarily place their name on the overtime desired list.
This report responds to a request from Senator Ronald H. Johnson of WI, to review the alleged misconduct of 13 electronic technicians that resulted in unnecessary overtime at the Madison, WI, Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in the Lakeland District of the Great Lakes Area.
Electronic technicians in the Postal Service’s field maintenance organization perform diagnostic, preventive maintenance, calibration, and overhaul tasks on a variety of mail processing, customer service, and building equipment and systems.
During fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015, the facility had 22 and 18 electronic technicians onboard, respectively, and had 15 onboard by May 31, 2016. This report addresses the 13 electronic technicians mentioned in the congressional inquiry.
Our objective was to assess the management of electronic technicians’ overtime at the Madison P&DC during FY 2014 through May 31, 2016.
What The OIG Found
Madison P&DC maintenance management did not effectively manage overtime for the 13 electronic technicians. The overtime percentage to workhours for the 13 electronic technicians was 9.5 percent, which was higher than the other nine electronic technicians’ combined 7.3 percent overtime percentage to workhours for FY 2014 through May 2016.
For FY 2014 through May 31, 2016, these electronic technicians logged 6,421 of 8,473 total overtime hours (76 percent), and 895 of 1,097 total penalty overtime hours (82 percent) reported by all electronic technicians at the facility. While the other nine electronic technicians averaged 228 overtime hours each, the 13 electronic technicians averaged 494 overtime hours each (117 percent greater). The 13 electronic technicians’ annual overtime payment amounts ranged from $4,733 to $17,508 (between 7 to 27 percent) and from $2,511 to $12,540 (between 4 to 19 percent) of their salary in FYs 2014 and 2015, respectively. Specifically:
- Of the total 6,421 overtime hours and total 895 penalty overtime hours, the 13 electronic technicians received 2,317 (36 percent) and 258 (29 percent) on the weekends. These electronic technicians were generally scheduled off on the weekend. Therefore, when they were called in to work on the weekends they received a guaranteed 8 hours of overtime.
In comparison, the other nine electronic technicians only reported 341 overtime and 2 penalty overtime hours on the weekends.
- Three of the 13 electronic technicians on Tour 1 had an average of 563 overtime hours, which was the highest average of overtime hours for all three tours.
We also found that:
- Five of the 13 electronic technicians had excessive daily Internet usage which exceeded the 18 minute daily average use.
- Management used electronic technicians instead of other qualified maintenance employees at a lower labor rate to move machinery. Eight of the 13 electronic technicians spent 38 percent more regular workhours moving machinery than the mail processing equipment mechanics (who are paid at a lower labor rate).
- Supervisors did not periodically evaluate electronic technicians’ performance on maintenance routes, as required.
These incidents occurred because maintenance management regularly staffed three electronic technicians for each tour without determining workload and did not assign supervisors to oversee electronic technicians between 10:30 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. during Tour 1 and on weekends.
Management stated that P&DCs’ current complement of three supervisors could not cover every hour of each tour; however, management could configure supervisors’ schedules to cover Tour 1 and the weekends.
Maintenance supervisors also stated they did not monitor employees’ computer usage because it was difficult to observe and identify employees improperly using Postal Service equipment during workhours. In addition, one of the five electronic technicians with above average computer use did not clearly understand the policy on limited personal use of Postal Service equipment and two others disregarded the policy.
Further, management assigned electronic technicians to move machinery because they believed it was more efficient. Management could use electronic technicians to assist when needed in the process and use lower paid maintenance employees who can perform similar duties. Lastly, management did not have a clear understanding of the policy to evaluate electronic technicians’ performance on maintenance routes.