BACKGROUND:

The U.S. Postal Service ended fiscal year (FY) 2012 with a record net loss of $15.9 billion. This followed a net loss of $5.1 billion for the previous year. In an effort to reduce costs and improve staffing flexibility, the Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union agreed to create two new flexible employee categories: non-traditional full-time and postal support employee positions, effective May 23, 2011. The Postal Service estimates significant cost savings in utilizing these new employee categories. The non-traditional full-time position is a bid position with a regular weekly schedule of 30-48 hours, while the postal support employee position is a part-time non-career position that may be scheduled for as few as 2 hours a day or as many as 40 or more hours in a work week. This position may not exceed 360 calendar days per appointment.

Our objective was to assess the use of non-traditional full-time and postal support employee positions. This report responds to a request from the postmaster general.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

While Postal Service managers showed improvement in increasing the use of both positions, they have not hired to the fullest extent allowed by the contract. For example, of total clerk positions in FY 2012, non-traditional fulltime employees increased from 507 at the beginning of the year to 3,708 at the end of the year. Postal support employees increased from 5,632 to 7,559. The use of flexible positions was hindered by:

 Employees’ reluctance to bid on nontraditional full-time positions of less than 40 hours per week.

 Difficulties in staffing and scheduling non-traditional full-time employees. This was largely attributed to lack of supervisor training.

 Lack of available positions in some plants. Consequently, if the Postal Service hired postal support employees up to contract limits, it could have reduced labor and overtime costs in FY 2012 by more than $30.6 million.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED

We recommended the vice president, Network Operations, direct managers to provide additional training to improve the utilization and supervision of nontraditional full-time positions and periodically evaluate postal support employee staffing to optimize usage of these employees.