Span of control is defined as the number of subordinates in an organization who report directly to one supervisor. The U.S. Postal Service has established a span of control target of one supervisor for every 25 craft employees (1:25).

Our objective was to assess the use of supervisor workhours and span of control at mail processing facilities. This report responds to a request from the postmaster general and chief executive officer and impacts mail processing operations nationwide.


Although the Postal Service generally reduced supervisor workhours in relation to craft employee workhours, it did not always achieve its span of control target. Specifically, we found that, based on the 1:25 span of control target, there was a shortage of 412 regular supervisors nationwide and an excess of 1.8 million replacement supervisor workhours used in fiscal year (FY) 2012. Replacement supervisors are craft employees used to backfill supervisors.

These conditions occurred because the Postal Service did not always adjust supervisor positions in relation to craft positions to achieve span of control targets. In addition, the Postal Service did not always monitor span of control during the plant consolidation process. Furthermore, span of control targets could be inaccurate, as the Postal Service had not re-evaluated them since the spring of 2011. As a result, the Postal Service incurred excess costs from replacement supervisor workhours with no real added benefit.


We recommended the vice president, Network Operations:  Re-evaluate span of control targets and determine the appropriate targets.

 Fill vacant supervisor positions up to the appropriate span of control level and reduce supervisor replacement workhours accordingly.

 Ensure that span of control targets are achieved during the consolidation process to the fullest extent possible.