Background

This report responds to a request from Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley regarding a constituent’s concern about excessive overtime at the Iowa City Post Office. The constituent alleged the majority of the 140 employees at the facility have worked 6 days a week for more than a year.

Overtime is a premium eligible employees receive for work performed in excess of 8 paid hours in a day or 40 paid hours in a week. The U.S. Postal Service uses overtime to provide flexibility and meet its operational requirements efficiently without having to increase its overall complement.

Iowa City’s economic growth has contributed to the metropolitan area having the eighth lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Iowa City has experienced low unemployment for an extended period, which has created challenges for management in hiring and retaining employees. Our objective was to evaluate the use of overtime at the Iowa City Post Office.

What The OIG Found

The amount of overtime at the Iowa City Post Office was significantly greater than the national goal. Specifically, in fiscal year 2013, overtime was 13.9 percent of total workhours at the Iowa City facility compared to the Postal Service’s national goal of 5.6 percent, and the national average rate of 9.3 percent.

Also, from January 2013 through January 2014, Iowa City Post Office employees, on average, worked 6 days a week, 40 percent of the time. The facility used a large amount of overtime because carrier positions were understaffed and parcel volumes increased. Additionally, facility management did not perform route inspections or effectively divide overburdened or vacant routes among carriers. Finally, management did not follow overtime procedures, resulting in overtime grievance payouts 179 percent higher than the national average.

If management does not properly staff the facility, manage parcel volume increases, use available tools to control overtime, and follow overtime procedures, the Postal Service could be exposed to unnecessary grievances and incur additional overtime costs. Excessive overtime could also harm employee morale.

 What The OIG Recommended

We recommended management implement a plan to recruit and retain employees at the Iowa City Post Office; implement procedures to ensure all routes are structured within 8 hour assignments; implement procedures to ensure management pivots available routes; and train facility management on techniques to effectively manage overtime to reduce overtime grievances.