The U.S. Postal Service pay for performance (PFP) program is the primary pay program for non-bargaining Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) employees who work in supervisory, technical, administrative, and managerial positions. The National Performance Assessment, which is a scorecard of performance goals, is the foundation of the PFP program.
EAS employees work at Postal Service Headquarters (HQ) or field locations, including post offices, stations, branches, and plants. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, management evaluated 5,466 HQ employees and 43,105 field employees under the PFP program.
PFP evaluation criteria vary based on the EAS employee’s assigned work location. HQ employee evaluations are based on corporate goals, which are tied to the Postal Service’s overall performance, and on individual goals. Field employee evaluations are based on corporate goals and unit goals or those of a group of employees within the unit.
Our audit objective was to determine whether the Postal Service’s FY 2015 PFP program was sufficiently consistent and transparent to allow management to recognize employee performance.
What the OIG Found
The Postal Service administered the FY 2015 PFP program in accordance with policies and procedures; however, guidance documents could be more accurate and updated more timely. Specifically, the PFP policy and guidance on the PFP website did not accurately reflect the current process. This occurred because management did not periodically review PFP policies and procedures maintained on the internal website to ensure they were accurate and up to date. Inaccurate policy and procedure documentation increases the risk of inconsistent application of process, noncompliance, or lack of employee accountability.
Additionally, opportunities exist to better align employee evaluation criteria to improve consistency and transparency in the evaluation process. For example, the distinction between stations and branches versus post offices did not provide employees with the same opportunity to be evaluated for their individual contributions.
Based on our recalculations, the scores of 38 percent of employees at Capital Metro Area stations and branches (142 of 378) would have changed — 30 percent (112 of 378) would have increased and 8 percent (30 of 378) would have decreased if evaluated based on individual contributions for their assigned location. Sixty-two percent (236 of 378) of employee scores would have remained the same.
Similarly, the unit criteria distinction between plants versus post offices did not provide employees within departments with the same opportunity to be evaluated for individual departmental contributions. Based on our recalculations, the scores for 8 percent of employees in Capital Metro Area maintenance department groups (16 of 208) would have changed had they been assessed using the criteria that is used at post offices.
This occurred because the PFP program is designed to evaluate performance at stations, branches, and plant departments collectively based on the overall performance of the main post office or plant to which they were assigned respectively. Management stated that this decision was to ensure that individual station, branch, and plant employees focused on achieving unit goals to promote team accomplishments and potentially alleviate unintended consequences. Therefore, in theory, these units would work together to achieve the unit goals for the main post office or plant.
As a result, 31 of the supervisors interviewed (18 at Baltimore stations and branches and 13 at the Sacramento Processing and Distribution Center) perceived the PFP process as not fairly recognizing individual accomplishments. Perceived unfairness in the PFP process may increase the risk of employees becoming disengaged if they feel management does not recognize the accomplishments of individual units or that the poor performances of others mask their contributions.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management update policy to ensure it aligns with current processes; communicate evaluation criteria of the PFP process to reduce the risk of negative perception and of employees becoming disengaged; and assess methods within the PFP process for recognizing individual units for their specific performance at stations, branches, and plant departments.