U.S. Postal Service:

Diversity in High-Level EAS Positions

GGD-99-26: Published: Feb 26, 1999. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1999.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the promotion of women and minorities to high-level Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) management positions (EAS 17 and above) in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), focusing on: (1) the overall extent to which women and minorities have been promoted to or are represented in EAS 17 and above positions in USPS; (2) GAO's observations on the methodology used by a private contractor, Aguirre International, to study workforce diversity at USPS; (3) the status of USPS' efforts to address the recommendations contained in the Aguirre report; and (4) GAO's analysis of whether USPS could better capture and use data to achieve its diversity objectives.

GAO noted that: (1) at the end of fiscal year (FY) 1997, black and Asian men and women and Hispanic men were fully represented while Hispanic women, Native American men and women, and white women were underrepresented in USPS at the cluster level when compared with the civilian labor force; (2) representation of women and minorities at the cluster level in EAS 17 and above positions increased between fiscal years (FY) 1993 and 1997, with the exception of black men whose representation decreased; (3) in FY 1997, women and all minority groups, except Asian women, at the cluster lever were promoted to EAS 17 and above positions at higher rates than women and minority groups were represented in those EAS positions; (4) despite this progress, the overall representation of women and minorities at the cluster level in EAS 17 and above positions was almost 20 percent lower than their representation in EAS 11 through 16 positions at the end of (FY) 1997; (5) similar comparisons at the headquarters and area office workforce levels showed some variations regarding the representation of specific equal employment opportunity (EEO) groups; (6) GAO believes that the methodologies used by Aguirre International were generally reasonable, appropriate, and relevant given the parameters established for the study and the complexities surrounding the sensitive issue of diversity in such a large organization; (7) however, GAO believes that Aguirre's finding of a glass ceiling beginning at EAS 17 positions could be misleading; (8) USPS reviewed the Aguirre report and developed 23 initiatives that it believed addresses the report's major issues and recommendations; (9) USPS believes its 23 initiatives will significantly strengthen its diversity program and address most of Aguirre's concerns; (10) USPS believes that it is generally on or ahead of its schedule for implementing these initiatives; (11) by the spring of 1999, USPS plans to create an ongoing monitoring process to ensure full implementation of its initiatives, which will result in revised scopes, completion dates, and implementation status for some of the initiatives; (12) USPS has recently developed broad goals and objectives for its diversity program, but it has not yet established specific targets and measures for determining its progress toward meeting its diversity goals and objectives; and (13) USPS officials said that specific targets and measures would be established no later than March 30, 1999.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Postmaster General's letter to the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Postal Service, House Committee on Government Reform, dated May 24, 1999, the Service instituted controls at field location to monitor the accuracy and completeness of data related to the EAS promotion applicant pool. The data should then be reliable for establishing baselines and demographic analyses of the EAS applicant pool and for identification of potential barriers in the EAS promotion process.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should ensure that appropriate USPS officials capture group data in the Application EEO Flow Tracking System and use these data to help improve the USPS diversity program, including the identification of any barriers that might impede promotions to high-level EAS positions.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service


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