OIG says USPS falsified Pay for Performance scores to save money

An audit by the US Postal Service Inspector general confirmed what many postmasters and supervisors have long known: managers have arbitrarily and improperly reduced the performance ratings of their subordinates, reducing or eliminating salary increases for those employees.

The audit was requested by the management organizations in the wake of widespread complaints about wholesale reductions in employees’ performance ratings at the end of fiscal year 2009. Some suspect that the arbitrary downgrades were “payback” for the organizations’ refusal to agree to a total moratorium on Pay For Performance increases that year.

The OIG reached this conclusion:

We determined that individuals responsible for evaluating or approving sampled employees’ FY 2009 core requirement ratings were not compliant with PFP policies and procedures. Specifically, we found that managers lowered core requirement ratings in a manner inconsistent with PFP policies and procedures, which state that employees should be rated on these requirements based on agreed-upon objectives and targets and that end-of-year ratings should reflect employees’ individual achievements. In addition, managers used numeric targets to rate postmasters on their core requirements, which they are supposed to base on behavioral objectives.

The report cites some of the more glaring violations:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

While the report suggests changes to the postal service’s methods, it makes no mention of compensation for employees adversely affected by the falsified evaluations. (Unlike bargaining unit employees, postal supervisors and postmasters do not receive annual COLA or “step” increases.)

Personal note: 2009 was my last year as a postal employee, and my last Pay for Performance evaluation came not long before my retirement. It was considerably less than I’d received in prior years, despite the fact that my boss had never indicated any deficiencies in my work. When I asked about it, she told me “Don’t take it personally- I had to lower everyone’s ratings this year”. A week later, when I told her I was considering an appeal, she denied ever having made the comment.

2009 Pay for Performance Program Audit Report

  • cpttuna

    Sounds like a lot of managers should be shown the door.

  • CAworker

    And as usual politics will win out and there will be no punishment or maybe a promotion for whomever thought
    this scheme up. I just overhead this morning at work managers can do anything they want. Just like Gods.

  • UnHappy

    So, tell me again how this plan “works?” I was evaluated using the wrong criteria for 2009. If I had been evaluated as a plant supervisor instead of in plant support, my raise would have been more. My request to fix this was ignored, and I was not given the correct pay raise.

  • James Becken

    And let’s not forget the widespread habit of “changing our goals at midyear” if it seemed possible we might reach our objectives . That still goes on. Shame on the USPS.


    It should go back to those who were guilty, and deduct from their retirement if they are retired. It was always suspected, but this many years to catch them?/

  • Ed Parin

    In 1998 it was outrageous how in the NNJD ratings where changed dramatically. I should have received a Exceptional contr. and I was given a Contr. rating. Carmen Bruno the Poom NNJD was not man enough to even return my emails. I recoursed it to no avail. Most Pooms are wimps and ass kissers that do whatever the DM tells them to even when its wrong.As far as the OIG I’m surprised they even got involved. Another wasteful organizations. Why even have them? To tell us what we already know!

  • Jojo

    We have been told at our office that we must all have the same cores. When I complain I am browbeat at not being a team player. My national goals for my position are unatainable as others have more influence on the numbers than I do. But I am told to accept it as other numbers are more important. Then, we get beat up on telecons like we don’t do our job. It is a good pay check, it is not a good job. The lack of support provided by the higher ups kinda proves that they want to keep us down!

  • pandora

    The postal service cheats employees? Talk to your rural carriers. I’m sure they will have plenty of instances of postal service cheating. Cola? What cola?

  • jimbo

    all postal supervisors and postmasters should receive a pay cut.computers have made thier jobs super easy so they have a lot of time to kick up thier feet .when i come in off the street after delivering my 600+ DELIVERIES,they are still sitting around doing nothing because the computer already did it for them 8 hours earlier.THEY ARE A H U G E COST AND BURDEN TO THE USPS.

  • jimbo


  • Beverly

    Clerks haven’t gotten a raise in two yrs, and no COLA either.

  • Jim

    This is no surprise. In fact this has been going on since they created PFP. No on followed the rules. In the old Northern Illinois District, the District manager changed every POOM evaluation in 2009 lower because the District didn’t do good. Of course no one will get back pay because this isn’t one of the craft unions.

  • djjoe

    Any one who fraudulently mis-represented their position and changed the evaluated scores in order to lower the results should be issued a removal from the postal service. This is a gross violation of every employees rights who were affected by these actions.The OIG should do their job and file criminal mis conduct action against any POOM or DM who was involved in this conspiracy.This is outrageous. Fire the bastards..

  • brian

    Beverly- I sympathize with you, but I don’t see what that has to do with the OIG report. You didn’t get a raise or a COLA because that’s what you agreed to. Supervisors don’t get to bargain over pay- they get what Headquarters imposes on them for wages.

    You didn’t get a raise because under the agreement you negotiated, you weren’t entitled to one. What the OIG has confirmed is that many supervisors and postmasters who were entitled to a raise under the rules Headquarters imposed, didn’t get that raise because performance records were falsified. Big difference.

  • trout

    Reading all the comments above just confirms how screwed up we all are. Postmasters are bitching, supervisors are bitching, carriers are bitching, clerks are bitching, every one is bitching and missing the point. We are all Postal Workers and all we do is fight, bitch and blame anyone else. I believe in the OIG and the Inspectors it’s the ass kissers, the racism, the cronisism and the lack of accountability at all levels that ruins us.

  • cousin vinny

    since usps needs to reduce staffing – or cut costs -, it seems pretty clear cut:

    1-most importantly get congress to correct the pension overpayments.

    2-identify those that falsified records, drum them out.

    3-evaluate built in redundancies – create computer programs that do what most managers spend hours on the computers doing, drum out the excess duplicate management positions.

    3-offer another round of early outs.

    4- then see where the dust settles and determine how many more cuts need to happen.

  • brian

    Vinny- a little problem with your logic there- why “drumming out” excess managers, AND offering early outs? The only reason to offer early outs is to get rid of excess employees- why not just “drum them out”?