A temporary (detail) assignment is the placement of a career employee in another established position that is vacant or from which the incumbent is absent from duty. Detail assignments are supposed to be made only for the shortest period of time necessary and may be used to meet emergencies caused by an abnormal workload, a change in mission or organization, or unanticipated absences.
The U.S. Postal Service uses two policies to manage detail assignments: one is issued by the Controller and the other by Employee Resource Management. The policies outline the justifications and approvals necessary for detail assignments. The Controller policy requires documented justifications and focuses on the financial impact of detail assignments. The Employee Resource Management policy requires only the completion of a Postal Service Form 1723, Assignment Order, and focuses on the temporary placement and hiring of employees. The Postal Service relies on area and district managers to follow these policies when assigning personnel to a detail assignment.
Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Postal Service’s management of detail assignments.
WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
The Postal Service did not effectively manage detail assignments. Specifically, the Postal Service did not ensure compliance with detail assignment policies and was unable to identify who was on detail and the associated costs. Additionally, the Postal Service did not have consistent polices for detail assignment justifications and approvals. As a result, the Postal Service spends about $34 million annually on travel for detail assignments that are not properly supported. Without centralized oversight of detail assignments, it is difficult to determine if assignments are justified and approved properly and evaluate the costs and benefits associated with detail assignments.
WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:
We recommend the Postal Service assign the responsibility for managing detail assignments and associated travel costs to the appropriate functional area. Additionally, it should direct the vice president, Employee Resource Management, and vice president, Controller, to consolidate detail assignment policies into one manual to ensure consistency.
USPS Proposed Resolution
R - 1 -- Designate overall responsiblity for managing detail assignments and associated travel costs to an appropriate functional area to ensure detailed assignment compliance, effectiveness, and efficiency.
R - 2 -- Direct the vice president, Employee Resource Management, and vice president, Controller, update detail assignment policies to ensure they are consistent.