Objective

Our objective was to assess whether timecard adjustments were made in accordance with Postal Service policy and to assess enhancements to the timecard system.

Our fieldwork began before the president of the United States issued the national emergency declaration concerning the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on March 13, 2020. The results of this audit do not reflect any timecard-related process changes that may have occurred as a result of the pandemic or recent operational changes.

The Postal Service uses the Time and Attendance Collection System (TACS) to capture the number of workhours employees spend working in various Postal Service operations. Employees record the times and types of operation they work by swiping their employee identification card on a badge reader at the facility. Each swipe updates their timecard record in TACS and is referred to as a clock ring.

Installation heads, such as Plant Managers and Postmasters, are responsible for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of time and attendance data reporting from their facilities. Managers and supervisors share the responsibility of correcting reporting errors and are required to enter all timecard adjustments for their employees.

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 is disallowed when a supervisor observes or has proven knowledge that an employee did not work while “on the clock” and makes an adjustment in TACS. Employees are not paid for disallowed time, which can affect their eligibility to receive overtime pay.

When an adjustment occurs, supervisors must prepare written timecard entries on Postal Service Form 1017-A, Time Disallowance Record. Supervisors are responsible for retaining these forms in hard copy at their facility for three years. On June 25, 2020, the Postal Service implemented a TACS enhancement to digitize and electronically retain time disallowance records electronically. The goal of the enhancement was to ensure compliance with the time disallowance record retention policy.

From June to November 2019, we identified 137,560 disallowed timecard adjustments totaling 46,025 hours nationwide. We reviewed a judgmental sample of 313 disallowed timecard adjustments during this period for seven Postal Service facilities in the Capital, Chicago, and South Florida districts because they had a high number of clock ring counts and disallowed timecard adjusted hours.

Findings

Timecard adjustments are a recurring issue within the Postal Service. Postal Service supervisors did not maintain supporting documentation for disallowing time, as required by policy. Additionally, there were deficiencies in the new TACS enhancement that allow supervisors to bypass completing the required supporting documentation when disallowing time.

At the seven facilities we visited, we found that 34 of 36 (94 percent) managers and supervisors did not consistently complete and maintain proper supporting documentation for time disallowed through deleted, added, or adjusted clock rings. Specifically, supervisors did not properly complete the time disallowance records for 269 of 313 (86 percent) disallowed timecard adjustments.

Disallowed timecard adjustments were made without proper documentation because supervisors misinterpreted the time disallowance policy and installation heads did not provide adequate oversight. For example, of the 313 disallowed timecard adjustments, 96 were for mealtime, “out to lunch,” adjustments. Supervisors could not provide the time disallowance records for 90 of the 96 (94 percent) lunch disallowed timecard adjustments. Additionally, there is no requirement for installation heads to regularly review the documentation supporting supervisors’ adjustments.

We identified about 225 hours that equaled $3,941 in unpaid wages at the seven visited sites due to supervisors not properly supporting disallowed timecard adjustments. Additionally, from fiscal years (FY) 2014 to 2019, employees filed 41 grievances nationwide related to disallowed time, resulting in $532,708 in grievance payments. Improper disallowed timecard adjustments could also subject the Postal Service to fines and penalties under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

While the Postal Service recently updated TACS, it is not pursuing initiatives to update the time collection devices. The company that built the badge readers used by the Postal Service went out of business in August 2018. There are only 21,599 remaining readers in use, and management stated that if nothing is done, they will run out of serviceable units by Quarter 3, FY 2021. The Postal Service is at a critical decision point where it could retire the out-of-production devices and move the agency toward modern, more accurate timekeeping based on employee movements throughout the workday. However, rather than replacing badge readers with newer technology, the Postal Service’s current strategy focuses on extending the use of the existing badge readers. When the Postal Service can no longer maintain the badge readers, the short-term solution would be to revert to manual timekeeping, which is labor intensive, more costly, and increases the risk of inaccurate TACS reporting.

In other matters, the June 2020 TACS enhancement had deficiencies that make it possible for supervisors to bypass completing the required electronic time disallowance records. If a supervisor bypassed the form, the corresponding disallowed timecard adjustment would be considered for pay purposes but not recorded on the employee’s time disallowance record in TACS. These deficiencies create a risk of incomplete information, which could affect the accuracy of management reports generated through TACS and increase the risk of more grievances. The Postal Service acknowledged the deficiencies and has a plan to correct them once it performs higher priority TACS updates. Therefore, we are not making a recommendation on this matter at this time.

Recommendations

We recommended management:

Reiterate disallowed time policy regarding lunch clock rings to supervisors and managers.

  • Establish a formal oversight process to ensure periodic reviews of supervisors’ documentation supporting disallowed timecard adjustments.
  • Procure and test new, automated time collection devices for the Postal Service to implement throughout its facilities.
  • Resolve system deficiencies that allow supervisors to bypass completing the time disallowance record in TACS to ensure disallowed timecard adjustments are reported in timekeeping reports.

Read full report

Comments (4)

IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE: Complaints about the Postal Service – including lost, stolen, or mishandled mail – that are unrelated to the content on this page will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

Leave a comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
  • anon

    My pay is totally incorrect my supervisors and managers are wrongfully denying me the EFEL I was allowed and the Backpack I was supposed to receive after my removal was rescinded I need to speak to someone ASAP! I JUST FOUND MULTIPLE PANDEMIC PAYS WERE ADJUSTED AS ADDITIONAL PAY THEN SUBTRACTED FROM MY PAYCHECKS!!

    Sep 02, 2021
  • anon

    Good evening, I hope this email finds you well. I would like too express my experience with postal service during my short assignment as a holiday clerk. This experience I hope no one else endures. The communication in this company lacks badly. No one is on the same page when giving the necessary information to move forward. Things are put to the side for employees who are not permanent and it’s unacceptable. From orientation too the actual location. You just don’t talk to people any kind of way . This was a discouraging time for me. We are in a pandemic , people are looking for employment. People have responsibilities to uphold. To be told my pay would have been corrected and still no one said a word too me. My last day of assignment no one said a word too me. I can’t get in touch with anyone regarding my last pay or the adjustment from the previous pay period. I also was told they were keeping me but that didn’t happen either. I felt out of place I was told numerous times there was no need to train me because I was only temporary help. So why the need to hire me. It may not matter to you. But I know I couldn’t and definitely wouldn’t treat anyone in the manner I was treated. I never had a schedule . It was so many wrong things during this Transition. I am surprised I continue to show up . I even put resignation papers in but was told by miss tia don’t go you are good worker we will fix it . But one person can’t do it alone . The managers need sum Critiquing on social skills. Customer service goes for employees as well as the customers. Have a happy new year you all. I was never paid for my ten days of covid and my orientation day.

    Jan 05, 2021
  • anon

    In engineering there is a concept call KISS: Keep it simple [,stupid]. The USPS should apply this concept to time card administration. Working as a city carrier assistant for the past year I am amazed at the unnecessary complexity of the USPS time keeping system versus other places where I have worked. Here are some modest suggestions. Limit time clock functions for carriers to "Clock in, clock out". Use the existing hand held scanners and USPS ID badges to clock in and clock out. The scanner is already associated with a route and is GPS tracked. There is no need for a separate time keeping system. It is unnecessary, redundant and wasted time and and money. Here is how I envision an simpler system working. At the start of a tour carriers are assigned scanners. when they scan their badges they clock in. When they take their half hour lunch they clock out again scanning the badge with the normal bar code scanner used for MSPs and deliveries. Clock in after lunch. Thus no more uneccessary paperwork by default for working through lunch if conditions warrant it. If the carrier changes routes he simply changes the route in the scanner. No pivot sheets or moving on the office time clock. Everything is GPS tracked and recorded using a single tool (the scanner) that travels with the carrier through out the day. Why can't we just keep it simple? I understand that there are some issues with union work rules but I don't understand why can not just use the regular bar code scanners for as the front line time keeping interface? Makes sense to me. Previous to working for the USPS I worked for Amazon as the delivery driver this was pretty much how they handled things with the additional step of swipe in and swipe out at the beginning and end of the shift at a wall mounted time clock. I was a direct amazon employee. I believe that DSPs (third party employees) simply use their scanners as their time keeping interface. Among perhaps 10 different hourly employers I have had over the years nobody makes time keeping as (unnecessarily) complicated as the USPS...

    Dec 15, 2020
  • anon

    Okay

    Dec 10, 2020