Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s effectiveness of processing selected personnel actions and identify potential process improvements. We limited our scope to selected late resignation and reassignment personnel actions.
Personnel actions are changes to an employee’s status such as hiring, reassignment, promotion, benefit changes, separations, and retirements. Local Human Resources personnel, as well as supervisors and managers across the organization, are responsible for initiating actions by providing the relevant information online to the Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC). The HRSSC processes the action and produces a Postal Service Form 50, Notification of Personnel Action (Form 50). The Form 50 has multiple purposes, including updating Postal Service employee and payroll records, notifying the employee of the status change, and documenting the salary and service history of the employee in their official personnel folder.
Personnel actions processed on or after day 13 of the effective pay period are considered late and may result in a manual pay adjustment. When actions are not processed timely, the Postal Service may incur additional time and monetary costs to process payroll adjustments or review late separations. According to Payroll Operations Branch management, the Postal Service processed about 175,000 late personnel actions during the 12-month period ending May 7, 2021, that required either a payroll adjustment or additional review. Postal Service management has only tracked this metric for about a year, so trending is not available.
We analyzed late actions and coordinated with the Postal Service to identify the types of personnel actions on which to focus based on volume, which actions were most problematic for the Payroll Operations Branch, and the potential opportunity for improvement. Based on this analysis, we selected resignation and reassignment personnel actions.
We focused on 150 selected resignation and reassignment late personnel actions from a total of 45,193 actions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and identified opportunities to improve the timeliness of processing those types of actions.
The Postal Service did not always effectively process selected personnel actions. We reviewed a judgmental sample of 150 late resignation and reassignment personnel actions processed during FY 2020 to determine the reasons for the late submissions and found that:
- HRSSC management had not clearly defined or communicated the timeline for processing personnel actions at the HRSSC. As a result, field partners were not always aware of the number of days allowed for HRSSC processing. The number of days allotted for each party involved can impact whether actions are processed on time.
- Field partners did not always comply with established procedures or know what their responsibilities were or how to perform them; or made avoidable errors when submitting personnel actions to the HRSSC.
Additionally, we found that HRSSC management did not gather or monitor data when field partners submitted actions to them after the effective date. With monitoring, the HRSSC can identify trends in late submissions that may indicate their field partners would benefit from additional guidance and support or the need to reexamine the time required to process actions.
The Postal Service incurs additional time and costs to process payroll adjustments or review late separations. Without management’s consideration of opportunities to improve the timeliness of processing personnel actions, the risk of committing resources for additional work remains. Other potential operational impacts of not timely processing personnel actions include delayed staffing decisions because a separated employee remains on the employment records and separated employees retaining access to computer and facility resources.
We recommended management:
- Engage with their field partners to re-evaluate the timeline for processing personnel actions including the time allowed for processing at the HRSSC and adjust as warranted.
- Update training to include the comprehensive timeline of personnel actions processing and documentation requirements, and provide to all Postal Service personnel responsible for submitting personnel actions.
- Monitor data regarding the timeliness of personnel actions processing including the causes of late submissions, and address issues identified.