The Office of Inspector General for the U. S. Postal Service has issued an audit report on the 2009 Pay- for-Performance program. On August 27, 2010 NAPUS and the League filed a joint letter to the OIG requesting their assistance with an investigation into Postmasters’ 2009 Pay-for-Performance program’s final core requirement ratings and appeals. Our request for an investigation was not based simply on reduced monetary payouts due to manipulation of the program. Rather, we requested this investigation based on the failure of the U.S. Postal Service to comply with the administrative rules of the PFP. It appears from the OIG’s report that the OIG found that the Postal Service did fail to comply with the rules.
The OIG’s objective was to determine whether the Postal Service complied with Pay- for- Performance (PFP) policies and procedures in determining fiscal year (FY) 2009 EAS employee final ratings for field supervisors, postmasters, and managers. Details of the findings and recommendations can be viewed here – OIG Core Final Report 080811 .
This report will not have any impact on any previous end of year NPA/PFP ratings for 2009. The OIG’s recommendations will be included in the current Postmaster pay talks with USPS representatives.
August 10, 2010
Highlights from the report
When managers do not comply with PFP policies and procedures, they can compromise the integrity of the program and undermine the accuracy and validity of employee evaluations.
Core Requirement Ratings Were Lowered
We interviewed 59 randomly selected EAS employees, and 53 percent stated that their final core requirement ratings were lower than expected based on end-of-year discussions they had with their supervisors.7 In addition, a review of evaluations for sampled employees showed that some evaluators’ written end-of-year comments did not always match the core requirement ratings given to employees. For example:
One evaluator wrote, “On this indicator, the office’s Delivery Point Sequence percent increased by +3.26 percent ending up in the exceptional contributor category in accordance to the goals issued at the beginning of FY 09, thank you for your contributions.” However, the employee in question received a rating of “contributor.”
In another instance, comments on an employee’s appeal reflect that the evaluator and second-level reviewer concurred that the employee’s performance on one of the core requirements merited an exceptional rating of 15, yet the next level reviewer lowered the rating to a three.8
Forty-six percent of the evaluators9 responsible for rating 59 employees stated the core requirement ratings they submitted for the employees were lowered at the next review level.10 Additionally, 40 percent of the second-level reviewers we interviewed indicated they did lower the employees’ ratings.11 The most common reason given for lowering the ratings was that they were either instructed by a superior to bring ratings in line with NPA unit scores or they changed them believing the ratings needed to be more in line with NPA unit scores. For example:
A district manager stated the area vice president verbally instructed all district managers in the area to align employees’ core requirement ratings with the average NPA unit score for their districts. As a result, the manager reviewed and lowered the core requirement ratings for 606 employees.12
Another district manager stated managers lowered core requirement ratings after reviewing a sample of ratings in that district and determining that they were disproportionate to the district’s NPA score. Typically, a district manager only reviews the PFP of direct reports and employees whose core requirement ratings are identified as ‘non-contributor’ or ’exceptional’ by the PES.13
A plant manager who was a second-level reviewer arbitrarily lowered an employee’s core requirement rating to avoid the additional scrutiny associated with giving the employee a rating five points or more over the NPA score.
Other reasons evaluators or second-level review managers gave for lowering employees’ core requirement ratings included:
The selected performance targets were too easy.
There was concern about the public’s reaction to employees receiving bonuses given the Postal Service’s financial condition.
Employees’ performance was not commensurate with that of other individuals in similar positions and same-size offices.