An inspector general report has called on the Postal Service to boost its succession planning efforts, saying that while programs are in place at executive levels they are not well tracked and that the USPS lacks standardized programs for employees at other levels.
It said succession planning needs to be a high priority since 23 percent of career postal employees already are eligible to retire—compared with the 15 percent government-wide figure that has raised concerns about loss of expertise—and nearly another 15 percent will be eligible over the next four years.
The report noted that for executives, there is a Corporate Succession Planning program “to identify and develop potential future leaders so that they can promptly and successfully assume executive manager positions as they become available” and that as of year-end 2021, 44 candidates were available for 68 groupings of positions with similar responsibilities, scope, and competency requirements.
However, the last update to that program occurred in fiscal 2014, it said, and “with the recent organizational changes, management has not been able to closely monitor who is in the executive level pools.”
Further, “no standard plan exists for non-executive positions in the field,” it said, but instead “division and district managers rely on using personal judgement and competency models as a guide to identifying high-performing employees rather than a formal succession plan process.”
“Without a nationwide plan in place, employees outside of the executive level may not be prepared for promotional or executive roles once those roles become available,” it said.
The IG said that postal management agreed with recommendations to improve measurements of how successful training programs prove to be and to update it executive succession plan to reflect current agency systems and standards. However, management disagreed with a recommendation to create a formal program for non-executive employees, saying that it considers the existing methods to support and reinforce knowledge continuity to be satisfactory.
The IG said it would continue pursuing that recommendation, saying “The Postal Service is at risk of losing corporate experience and knowledge if no formal plan for retaining that knowledge is in place.”