Some USPS officials manipulated performance ratings, audit finds

Top managers at the U.S. Postal Service arbitrarily reduced performance ratings for field supervisors, postmasters and managers, the ratings that govern annual salary increases and awards, according to a new audit report released by the USPS Office of Inspector General.

USPS Executive and Administrative Schedule employees, such as field supervisors and managers, are evaluated under a pay-for-performance system that is based on the National Performance Assessment and the employee's performance against individual core requirements, which are established by employees and their supervisors.

"Arbitrarily lowering employees’ end-of-year ratings can affect employee morale and their potential wage increases and bonuses, promotions, retirement annuity calculations, and Thrift Savings Plan contributions," the report states.

The OIG launched an investigation into the ratings process in response to a request from the National League of Postmasters, the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, and the National Association of Postal Supervisors. NAPS claimed that in many cases senior managers had agreed with the group’s members regarding their fiscal 2009 work accomplishments only to have upper managers arbitrarily lower the scores.

In its audit, the OIG found that senior managers responsible for determining final 2009 ratings for field supervisors, postmasters and managers departed from pay-for-performance procedures by lowering employees’ core requirement ratings.

In examining the ratings of 59 randomly selected employees, the OIG found that 46 percent of the evaluators responsible for rating the employees said the core requirement ratings they submitted for the employees were lowered at the next review level. Moreover, 40 percent of the second-level reviewers the OIG interviewed indicated that they had lowered the employees’ ratings.

Among the reasons evaluators cited for lowering ratings were that a superior instructed them to do so to bring ratings in line with National Performance Assessment unit scores or the evaluators themselves believed the ratings needed to be more in line with those scores.

The OIG also found that nine of the 11 postmaster evaluators in its sample violated policies by using numeric measures, such as retail revenue and total operating expenses, to evaluate the postmasters on their behavioral core requirements.

Postal service officials disagreed with the IG's methodology, but admitted that the performance reviews in the cases cited may have been inconsistent with the written program polices, according to the report.

The OIG audit report is available here.

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Reader comments

Tue, Aug 16, 2011

If mail delivery is privatized completely, many rural areas will lose service entirely, unless they are willing to pay commercial (FEDEX/UPS) delivery rates. It will finish killing off by-mail magazine subscriptions. Is this country willing to give up universal mail service? As bad as USPS is, compared to many other countries, the service is stellar.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

The accountants were the first ones to end the pay for performance at Homeland Security which was the first instance of pay for performance and a test. There is not enough money to inflate salaries every year! As soon as DoD federal rep explained how complicated the pay pool was to us I knew it was doomed! Why? Because it is nobody's job to make sure the pay pool is funded and and increased for the raises every year. If it is nobody's job then it isn't going to get done.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011 The Observer

I worked for a utility company in the south where the same practice was used. It's the old bell curve paradigm. Those forced to the backside of the curve will become a candidate for release.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

Gee, I’m wondering if the following had anything to do with this: “… The USPS expects to lose about $7 billion this year. The post office already has borrowed roughly $13 billion from Uncle Sam. At the end of 2009, USPS had $33.5 billion in outstanding liabilities and another $54.8 billion in unfunded retiree health and pension obligations.” And: “The U.S. Postal Service is planning to cut 220,000 employees — roughly a third of its workforce, and half of those through layoffs — by 2015.” “It also said it wants to set up its own health benefits plan for employees and stop offering a pension for new employees.” “The Postal Service is essentially bankrupt and will run out of cash next month, which is forcing it to take drastic steps to cut costs. …” " ‘If we were a private company, we already would have filed for bankruptcy and gone through restructuring — much like major automakers did two years ago,’ the Postal Service said in one paper.” “The Postal Service said attrition will cut 100,000 employees, but layoffs will be needed to eliminate the other 120,000 and bring its total workforce down to 425,000. However, unions' collective bargaining agreements have for decades banned layoffs, and the Postal Service said it has been unable to convince them to give up those protections during contract negotiations. So the Postal Service is asking Congress to step in and pass a law removing those layoff protections.” Government protected monopolies and unions will always distort the true concept of the value of labor. Government imposes regulations and people get laid off. Government refuses to allow competition and prices rise so people look for alternatives or stop using the service. Unions demand higher pay and benefits and then wonder why jobs move to other countries or hiring dries up and stops. This isn’t rocket science people. It’s Economics 101 that has been denied, ignored and demagogued for decades. Well to quote “our leader?’s” mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, “America’s chickens have come home to roost.” Here’s an idea, remove the government monopoly and union-distorted labor costs. Then tell all those people that the USPS system can’t afford to pay to go ahead and start their own delivery services and compete against the USPS. Let the Free Market do its job instead of blaming IT for government’s failures which any fifth grader with half an ounce of common sense knows is the real problem. Now let the brainless, socialist, Lemming prattle commence at me while the debt just grows and grows and grows.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

My pay is frozen for two years. I am not rated by my performance yet, but I guess performance rating does not matter for me right now...They have the next two years to get it right.

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