Government Operations:

Postal Service Discipline

T-GGD-89-23: Published: May 23, 1989. Publicly Released: May 23, 1989.

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GAO discussed the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) employee discipline policies and practices. GAO noted that USPS: (1) employed a disciplinary system of ever-increasing degrees of punishment to maintain standards of conduct and productivity; (2) during fiscal year 1987, issued approximately 69,000 disciplinary actions, under 26 categories of unacceptable behavior, with warning letters constituting about 60 percent of actions, suspensions about 30 percent, and removals about 10 percent; (3) allowed supervisors the flexibility to judge incidents and access penalties on an individual case basis; and (4) had concurring officials review proposed suspensions and removals for ensuring that supervisors adequately documented the actions, but not for ensuring consistency among disciplinary actions. GAO also noted that there was widespread inconsistency in disciplinary actions among and within USPS regions, since supervisory guidance did not sufficiently define: (1) the procedural requirements for allowing employees to correct their behavior before taking disciplinary action; (2) the procedural requirements for considering an employee's prior discipline record before selecting the penalty for the current infraction; (3) which infractions were minor; and (4) whether discussions should precede disciplinary action for subsequent, but different, infractions.

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