Postal Service IG Puts Retirement and Leave Benefits Under the Microscope

A postal worker starts her route in Atlanta in February. A postal worker starts her route in Atlanta in February. David Goldman/AP

The U.S. Postal Service’s internal auditor is seeking private sector input on the best way to administer paid time off and retirement benefits, according to multiple online solicitations.

The USPS’ inspector general posted the requests on the FedBizOpps, asking for a supplier with “subject matter expertise” to develop a report that compares the Postal Service’s leave and paid holiday program and retirement benefits to those offered by “major private-sector companies.”

The reports will “reveal the ways in which the Postal Service could benefit from adopting the identified best practices” for its retirement and leave benefits programs, the inspector general said in the solicitations.

USPS spends $5 billion annually to provide paid time off for its employees, according to the IG’s office. Postal employees receive  leave benefits  similar to those of other federal employees; for their first three years of service, USPS workers earn 13 days of annual leave. After 15 years of service, that number doubles.

The forthcoming audit, with the help of the IG’s private sector partner, will “inform the Postal Service whether there is an opportunity to reduce leave costs.”

Postal retirees currently participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System or the Civil Service Retirement System, along with the rest of the federal workforce. USPS officials have floated the idea of moving away from the FERS/CSRS program -- administered by the Office of Personnel Management -- toward an in-house retirement system. Regardless of who is administering the benefits, current statute requires USPS to provide retirees with benefits “comparable to those provided in the private sector.”

The IG ultimately plans to release its own audit report comparing the Postal Service’s retirement benefits to private-sector programs.

For both solicitations, the IG will require the contracted partners to consult with at least 10 companies or public-sector agencies to develop information on best practices. 

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