USPS Overtime Up 35% Since 2014

A federal watchdog says the agency needs better oversight

NBC Universal, Inc.

There are national concerns about the United States Postal Service delivering mail on time due to budget cutbacks.

Looking at the agency's overtime costs, it’s easier to understand why budgets may need to be tightened up.

Late last month the USPS Inspector General reported overtime has gone up 35% over the past six fiscal years, from $3.7 billion to $5 billion.  This has come at a time when package volume was up, mail volume was down, and there was increased staffing.

The inspector general gave multiple examples in its report. For instance, in 2018, a mail handler in the Northeast area earned more than $200,000 in total pay, $141,000 of it overtime, more than three times that employee’s base salary.

The report recommended hiring more staff when it’s more cost-efficient than overtime, and having better oversight of overtime.

“They really need to have accurate data collection to be able to clearly see that this is legitimate overtime,” said David Cadden, a professor emeritus from the Quinnipiac University Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy.  He reviewed the 26 page report and shared his insights with NBC Connecticut Investigates.

The USPS response inside the report suggested hiring more people could become costly, saying in part “The appropriate use of overtime continues to give management the greatest latitude to utilize its resources at the least possible cost while controlling future salaries and benefits of new employees.”

The United Postal Workers Union could not be reached for comment.

The Inspector General's Office said this report was prepared prior to the pandemic, and any cuts to the USPS.

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