Is Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe Dooming the USPS?
By Sam Wood
Southwest Florida Area Local

Is Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe Dooming the USPS?

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe talks about the USPS facing it's own fiscal cliff, but ignores the fact that he could be making things worse by continuing to make the USPS top heavy which has doomed many U.S. companies in the past. Could this be a planned failure? Why isn't anyone talking about this? The USPS Headquarters has grown since Donahoe has been Postmaster General. Headquarters Staffing in 2012 was at the second highest level even while overall staffing is at its lowest levels in a decade.

Here is management headquarters staffing levels since 1997:
1997 - 1949 HQ Employees
1998 - 2231 HQ Employees
1999 - 2372 HQ Employees
2000 - 2279 HQ Employees
2001 - 1836 HQ Employees
2002 - 1712 HQ Employees
2003 - 1867 HQ Employees
2004 - 2708 HQ Employees
2005 - 2654 HQ Employees
2006 - 2761 HQ Employees
2007 - 2856 HQ Employees
2008 - 2892 HQ Employees
2009 - 2811 HQ Employees
2010 - 2937 HQ Employees
2011 - 2745 HQ Employees
2012 - 2922 HQ Employees

Click for larger image

As you can see, the highest staffing level was in 2010 with a reduction in 2011, but the staffing level increased almost back to the 2010 level in 2012. Headquarters staffing reduce the overall productivity of the USPS while these headquarters employees make more money than the rest of the workforce. These higher paid employees actually cost the USPS much more than their numbers would indicate. The term "Span of Control" is the reference given to the ratio of managers and supervisors to the workforce that they oversee. By continuing to increase headquarters staffing levels and reduce the actual workers who perform the actual work, this drains the USPS and actually could be dooming it.

If you look at the ratio of Headquarter Staffing to other parts of the USPS, it becomes very clear of what has been happening. Here are the facts:

In 2001 the Ratio of Postmasters-Supervisors-Managers to Headquarters Staffing was at a rate of 35.33 to 1
In 2012 the Ratio of Postmasters-Supervisors-Managers to Headquarters Staffing was at a rate of 14.01 to 1

In 2001 the Ratio of Career Craft Employees to Headquarters Staffing was at a rate of 374.53 to 1
In 2012 the Ratio of Career Craft Employees to Headquarters Staffing was at a rate of 161.38 to 1

This is not only an increase, it is over double the previous levels for these managers at USPS Headquarters.

At the same time, the OIG has cited problems with the USPS's advertising program including misuse of top position.

USPS Headquarters Staffing increased by 177 employees or +6.45% from 2011 to 2012 while the rest of the USPS workforce decreased by 17,099 employees or -2.66%.

If you read the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) Contents, you will find the following:

112 Responsibilities
112.1 Headquarters
Employee Resource Management within Human Resources at Headquarters has overall responsibility for the control of organizational structures and staffing for the Postal Service. This includes:

a. Developing and implementing organizational management policies and programs for bargaining unit and nonbargaining unit positions.
b. Designing programs and procedures for auditing and assessing existing structures and staffing.
c. Providing a planning capability for the long–range organizational development of the Postal Service in response to technological and environmental changes.

121 Overview
The basic organizational structure of the Postal Service consists of five levels: Headquarters, areas, districts, processing and distribution centers, and Post Offices. Some units are uniquely designed because of their specialized nature; however, units that perform essentially identical functions are typically standardized. The central organizational thrust of the Postal Service is to standardize structures to the greatest extent possible. When circumstances require organizational adaptation to special operating conditions or service requirements, it is appropriate to make the necessary allowances in terms of structure and staffing.

122 Structuring Principles
An effective organizational structure should have the following characteristics:

a. Each position should be tailored to be within the capacities of a single individual.
b. Each position should be subject to the line authority of only one higher position.
c. Each position should be clearly defined in terms of objectives and measurable contributions.
d. All related activities necessary to hold an incumbent accountable for achieving objectives should be assigned to each position.
e. Duties and authority should be definitely fixed and authority should correspond with responsibility.
f. The structure should be developed within the complement constraints that have been realistically projected.
g. The structure should provide for the control of all work necessary to achieve mandated objectives.
h. Responsibility for current and long–range work should be clearly segregated.
i. Positions should be classified and grouped to avoid gaps or overlaps in work and/or functions.
j. The span of control should be neither so broad as to exceed the manager’s capacity to manage and integrate effectively nor so narrow as to preclude adequate delegation.
k. The chain of delegation should be short enough to minimize filtering communications vertically.
l. Related activities should be integrated at the lowest level consistent with the attainment of objectives, economical use of personnel, and assignment of responsibilities.
m. To the extent possible, future work requirements should be anticipated in the organizational design in order to avoid the need for frequent reorganizations.

130 Organizational Change Criteria
131 Workload Increase or Decrease
131.1 Increased Work
When the volume of work increases so that the existing organization can no longer effectively complete it according to accepted performance standards, organizational change may be justified. Workload increases may involve either of the following organizational changes:

a. Added layers of supervision to maintain an appropriate span of control.
Example: Authorization of a manager, distribution operations responsible for supervising multiple supervisors.
b. Added supervision within an authorized layer already existing in the organization.
Example: Authorization of an additional supervisor, distribution operations, under justifiable circumstances.

131.2 Decreased Work
When the volume of work drops off to the point where the existing resources of the organization become underutilized, a reduction in authorized staffing may be justified.

136 Inappropriate Span of Control
136.1 Factors
The complexity of a managerial function is to be a governing factor in establishing an appropriate span of control. When subordinates are performing similar tasks, the span of control can be broader than when subordinate functions are only loosely related.

136.2 Considerations
Rarely, if ever, can a one–over–one reporting relationship be justified since such an arrangement tends to dilute the responsibility and accountability of the principal manager.

When the span is so narrow that delegation is impaired and subordinate supervisors are limited in the use of initiative and judgment, it should be broadened.

Similarly, when the span is so broad that subordinates are not receiving the proper degree of management, it should be narrowed to ensure closer supervisory guidance.

It is not practical to prescribe upper or lower limits to the span of control in a general context. Each organizational situation must be separately analyzed.

156.2 Headquarters
All organizational changes in Headquarters and area offices require the approval of Organizational Design and Management, Employee Resource Management.

Sam Wood <>
Southwest Florida Area Local
- Monday, January 14, 2013 at 05:29:25 (PST)

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