U.S. Postal Service:

New Delivery Performance Measures Could Enhance Managers' Pay for Performance Program

GAO-08-996: Published: Sep 10, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2008.

Additional Materials:


Phillip R. Herr
(202) 512-8509


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) pay for performance (PFP) program for managers includes quantitative performance indicators. PFP ratings are the basis for salary increases and lump sum awards for nearly 750 Postal Career Executive Service (PCES) executives and about 71,700 other participants, mostly Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) employees. GAO was requested to provide information about USPS's PFP system. This report (1) describes the key features of USPS's PFP system, (2) provides information on the weight of its performance indicators in determining PFP ratings, and (3) identifies opportunities for USPS to incorporate delivery performance indicators into its PFP system. GAO obtained USPS documents and data, interviewed USPS officials, and primarily based its assessment on laws related to timely delivery and interviews with senior USPS officials.

Key features of the PFP program are quantitative corporate and unit indicators of performance and individual performance elements that are used to rate participants and provide the basis for awards. Quantitative performance targets are established for corporate and unit indicators. Corporate indicators apply to all participants and include measures of timely delivery, productivity, revenue, and net income, among others. Unit indicators apply to selected groups of participants and vary according to the groups' responsibilities and span of control. Individual performance elements are tailored to the participant group and, within some groups, to individuals. Individual performance elements may be defined by narrative standards or may be quantitative indicators defined with specific target performance levels. The overall PFP rating is based on results of corporate and unit indicators and individual performance elements and is used to determine the salary adjustment and any lump sum award. PFP indicators related to three USPS strategic goals--increasing efficiency, improving service, and generating revenues--collectively account for two-thirds of the average participant's rating (see fig.). However, indicator weights vary considerably by participant group, based on the responsibilities and span of control of various positions. As USPS implements requirements of the postal reform law for measuring delivery performance, it will have opportunities to incorporate new indicators into its PFP program, notably for timely delivery of Standard Mail (49 percent of mail volume in fiscal year 2007) and bulk First-Class Mail (25 percent of volume). Once new delivery performance measurement systems are fully implemented and mailers' participation is sufficient to generate representative data, USPS will be able to incorporate new delivery performance indicators into its PFP program. These new indicators would create a more "balanced scorecard" that uses service performance metrics for the mail that is measured to support personal and unit accountability.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In 2009, USPS has initiated an effort to incorporate First-Class Commercial Mail, Standard Mail, and Periodicals into its PFP program. Because the PFP program relies on data from the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb)as the primary method of service measurement for its marke-dominant products, the program could not use these data until mailers IMb usage had increased to the level where the data sufficiently represents delivery performance for these products. Over time, IMb data for First-Class Commercial mail became sufficiently representative. As a result, USPS has incorporated First-Class Commercial mail into the PFP for Fiscal Year 2012.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should incorporate new delivery performance indicators into the PFP program--such as indicators that cover Standard Mail and bulk First-Class Mail--once the necessary measurement systems are successfully implemented, including the actions that mailers must take to permit meaningful performance measurement.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 13, 2021

Dec 16, 2020

Dec 9, 2020

Dec 3, 2020

Nov 30, 2020

Nov 24, 2020

Nov 23, 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here