Postal Service:

Screening Applicants for Employment

GGD-88-93: Published: Jun 24, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Postal Service's (USPS) policies and procedures for screening and evaluating applicants for employment to determine whether: (1) noncompliance with screening requirements was widespread; and (2) USPS took adequate steps to address any deficiencies.

GAO and the Postal Inspection Service reviewed 15 post offices and found that: (1) none of the post offices complied completely with the USPS preemployment screening requirements; (2) USPS hired about 63 percent of the 1,289 postal employees sampled without information from prior employers, while police checks were missing for 58 percent of the employees; (3) postal officials cited a lack of cooperation from previous employers and law enforcement agencies, staff shortages, and inadequate time as reasons for noncompliance; and (4) the post offices lacked internal control procedures to ensure that hiring officials complied with screening requirements. GAO also found that USPS recently expanded the screening guidance in its personnel operations handbook to emphasize the importance of preemployment screening in training its hiring staff.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USPS established control procedures and issued instructions, as recommended by GAO.

    Recommendation: To detect noncompliance with the preemployment screening requirements before a hiring decision is made, the Postmaster General should: (1) establish a control procedure alerting the selecting official when the required police and prior employment checks have not been done; and (2) instruct hiring officials on how to proceed with a hiring action when screening checks from police and prior employers are missing and on whether people should be hired absent these checks.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service


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