This report responds to a request from U.S. Congressmen Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch regarding unauthorized timecard manipulations that impacted employee workhours at selected U.S. Postal Service facilities in the Greater Boston District. Our objective was to assess whether timecard adjustments were conducted in accordance with Postal Service policy.
The Postal Service uses the Time and Attendance Collection System (TACS) to capture workhours employees spend on various post office operations. Employees record the amount of time and the operation they work by swiping electronic timecards on an electronic badge reader at each facility. Each swipe records time in TACS and is referred to as a clock ring.
A timecard adjustment occurs when a supervisor deletes, adds, or changes a clock ring in TACS to adjust an employee’s combination of work and leave hours. Time may be disallowed when a supervisor observes or has proven knowledge that an employee did not work while “on the clock.”
When this occurs, supervisors must adjust the employee’s time in TACS and prepare a written entry on Postal Service (PS) Form 1017-A, Time Disallowance Record. Supervisors must also complete required forms for deleting, adding, or changing a clock ring to document the adjustment, depending on the reason.
We reviewed a statistical sample of 199 of 5,150 total timecard adjustments for disallowed time for letter carriers at 13 of 298 sites in the Greater Boston District from April 1, 2015, through September 30, 2017. Based on issues we found for disallowed time adjustments, we also reviewed an additional 50 timecard adjustments involving deleted clock rings and extended lunch times.
What the OIG Found
Supervisors in the Greater Boston District did not systemically adjust timecards in accordance with Postal Service policy. Specifically, 89 percent (177 of 199) of PS Forms 1017-A for 177 were not completed or maintained as required when employee time is disallowed. Of the 22 forms received, 50 percent (or 11) were missing key required information, such as the date the supervisor notified the employee and/or the reason for disallowing the time. In addition, we determined supervisors at one facility deleted 30 employee clock rings and extended 20 employee lunch times without any supporting documentation to justify the adjustment. Further, we referred these issues to our Office of Investigation.
These issues occurred because supervisors were not sufficiently trained in proper procedures for disallowing time, deleting clock rings, and extending lunch times; and district and facility management did not adequately oversee facility supervisors to ensure that they performed these actions properly.
In addition, there was no formal process in place to review and monitor timecard adjustments to ensure supervisors completed forms as required.
Improperly removing employee time could lead to grievances or subject the Postal Service to fines and penalties, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Department of Labor. We identified 470 hours that equated to $20,345 in unpaid wages due to supervisors not properly supporting timecard adjustments.
Finally, we determined that there are opportunities to explore TACS system controls to help ensure required information on disallowing time is captured in the system.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management improve training of supervisors to include procedures for disallowing time, deleting clock rings, and extending lunch times; establish a formal oversight process at district and facility levels to ensure supervisors performed these actions properly; and assess the feasibility of using systems controls in TACS to ensure supervisors make timecard adjustments in accordance with Postal Service policy.