The U.S. Postal Service was bashed for its “autocratic” management style in a government report that also raked postal workers and their unions over the coals for having adversarial attitudes towards management.
Postal service efforts to improve its efficiency “have been hampered by long-standing challenges in labor relations that, in many instances, resulted from autocratic management styles; adversarial attitudes of employees, unions, and management; and an inappropriate and inadequate management system,” the General Accounting Office said in a report to Congress.
The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, went on to say in its report “Major Management Challenges and Program Risks” facing the USPS, that numerous unresolved employee disagreements, many dealing with implementation of mail automation programs, “have impaired initiatives to improve [its] efficiency.”
It urged both sides to work together if the USPS is to “sustain performance and remain competitive,” adding that “continued labor-management problems may lead to escalating workplace difficulties and hamper efforts to achieve desired improvements.”
There was no immediate comment from either the USPS or the unions representing nearly 900,000 workers.
Although the USPS has improved is financial position over the last several years and made some performance improvements, it is still struggling to control its costs better improving service, according to the GAO.
It noted, for example, that the USPS has experienced a number of cost-overruns in the construction of new facilities which now number more than 38,000 nationwide while failing to be aware of, or take advantage of various opportunities to save money.
Stating that “major mailers and the public remain concerned about obtaining quality service at reasonable prices,” the GAO said that while the USPS has improved delivery service, including record on-time delivery of overnight, first class mail, (93% in fiscal 1998 versus 82% in fiscal 1994) “it’s been at the expense of other mail service, such as 2-day and 3-day letter mail, advertising mail and periodicals.”
Stressing that the USPS must do a better job of improving the performance of other mail classes, the GAO reported that postal officials currently are “developing performance measures for advertising mail.” The GAO urged the USPS to use “reliable” data in its advertising mail performance reports because in the past “some employees sought to undermine the integrity of the performance data on overnight mail delivery.”
The GAO also said that postal reform legislation pending in Congress “includes proposals that would more clearly define how the USPS would be allowed to compete in non-postal related markets.”
That legislation would authorize the USPS to split its products and services into competitive, operated by a private corporation, and non-competitive, set some of its rates, and strengthen the role of the Postal Rate Commission. A hearing on the measure, sponsored by House postal subcommittee chairman Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), is scheduled for today.