$4.3 million spent on U.S. Postal Service employees who did nothing, according to audit

August 29, 2011

Online Staff Report

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) spent $4.3 million on employees who did nothing in the first half of the year, according to an audit obtained by The Washington Post.

The lack of production was the result of requirements in union agreements that mandate postal employees have a certain amount of guaranteed work hours.

The guaranteed time protects workers from layoffs during periods of low mail volume or equipment failure. The result is “standby time,” when employees spend the day doing nothing.

Auditors visited USPS processing centers in Dallas and Detroit, the two locations with the most standby time.

The Washington Post reported the amount paid for standby time has decreased significantly — by tens of millions of dollars — from the amount spent a couple of years ago.

USPS logged more than 1.2 million hours in standby time in fiscal 2009, which cost more than $30 million. However, the amount declined to $20 million in 2010, and is projected to be less than $10 million in 2011.

According to the report, the decrease in standby time is the result of a reduced workforce. Meantime, auditors also found a large number of USPS officials who did not always properly report standby time, leading to overtime costs.

USPS is expected to lose $7 billion this year and is in negotiations with the National Association of Letter Carriers for a new multi-year deal.


  1. denman

    October 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

    “USPS logged more than 1.2 million hours in standby time in fiscal 2009, which cost taxpayers more than $30 million.”

    Standby time (which most postal workers hate) is paid out of operating funds and, like all operating expenses, NO TAXPAYER MONEY is involved.

    Please have your staff do even basic research before adding their own assumptions to a cut-and-paste article mash-up.

  2. BlackVulture

    October 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Cost taxpayers 30 million? Here we go again…

  3. NoCalFisher

    October 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I worked for 21 years for the P.O. and never ran across ANYONE sitting around waiting for work–mgmt. excluded! This must be a new thing. I retired in 2009.
    AND–quit this BS about taxpayer money. No taxpayer money is used in the P.O.

  4. Charlie

    October 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I love how ppl see a big number and go..omg…what a waste of money…let’s break standby time down…you have say, 1000 ppl.. each didn’t work 1 min a day,5 days a week, that’s 5000 min…multiply that by 4 weeks and 20000 min a month, times 12 months is 240000 min…divide that into hrs…and u have what?4000 hrs of standby time in a year..now imagine u have 500,000 employees…press needs to explain things better

  5. marie

    October 11, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “Stand by time” was invented by management to manipulate employee work hours. Even though there IS work to be done, this ruse allows management to falsely document “No work available” to eliminate clerk positions. Now, lines are out the door, clerks are overworked and being abused, and mail behind the scenes is being delayed on a daily basis. The public needs to know the truth behind these untruths fed to the media by postal HQ. Look at what these guys are doing to our SERVICE. They’re taking away fromthe public and the employees while remaining unscathed and unaccountable for their selfish actions. Do an article about their wage and salary pkgs. The PO brings in billions, find out who’s reaping the benefits. Your article seems to point blame on the workers, get the full facts.

  6. bart

    October 11, 2011 at 4:59 am

    If we have to wait for the truck to arrive with more mail they make us go on a stand-by code. But we are still working doing our other daily office functions. We all thought there was something fishy about that. Sometimes we put ourselves on a 354 code and continue to sort just so we won’t get called in the office the next day and have to explain why we didn’t go on a 354 code. Crazy.

  7. nancy Laney

    October 11, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Sounds like Congress…..They get paid tp do nothing..


    October 13, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Same old tired,lazy, bulls**t trash from the lazy,no-facts,uninformed,manipulative Press…find another line of work you lazy dopes!What is funny is that even if this “article” was true,if you flip the numbers around you then have a typical worker in any and all other jobs…their stand-by time is about 99.99% each day!I WORK for USPS(29 years),and had numerous jobs before USPS;THE OTHER JOBS ALL HAD AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF STAND-BY TIME…BUT I WORK ALL THE TIME AT MY USPS JOB!Everyone is too lazy to find out the facts and the other side of the story!Lazy dopes!!!!Try doing a fair and impartial article sometime…however,it will require some effort you fat-a**ed simpleton!!!!


    October 13, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Impeach Issa and Ross!Those two lying,freeloading,lazy-a** buffoons are going to be booted out of office;their ilk is not needed in America!!!

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