U.S. Postal Service:

Age and Disability in the Executive Service

GAO-09-255R: Published: Jan 12, 2009. Publicly Released: Jan 12, 2009.

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Phillip R. Herr
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Equal opportunity in the federal workplace is intended to result in a diverse and highly qualified workforce. Such a workplace uses the talents of all employees-- without regard to factors such as employees' race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status. Diversity within an agency's senior executive ranks, including the U.S. Postal Service's (Service) Postal Career Executive Service (PCES), is particularly important because it allows agencies to draw upon a wider variety of perspectives and approaches to address the wide array of challenges facing the federal government. The Service had 959 employees in the PCES during fiscal year 2000 and 867 PCES employees during fiscal year 2007. In April 2008, we reported on the demographic representation of employees in the Service's PCES (which includes postal officers and executives) and certain levels of the Service's Executive and Administrative Schedule (a pool of candidates for the Service's managerial and executive leadership positions). We provided these data for the end of fiscal year 2007, as well as baseline data from fiscal year 1999, which we previously reported for those positions. As requested, this report provides additional information on the demographic representation of employees who were in the PCES at any time during fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2007. Specifically, this report provides information on (1) the average age at which these employees entered the PCES; (2) the average age at which these PCES employees left (separated from) the Service, including the average age at which they retired; and (3) the number of PCES employees who reported having one of nine disabilities that the government, as a matter of policy, has identified for special affirmative action emphasis ("targeted" disabilities). This report also provides information on, among other matters, the average length of tenure that employees had with the Service prior to entering the PCES as well as their average length of tenure in the PCES before separating from the Service.

(1) Employees onboard during fiscal year 2000 were, on average, about 44 years old when they first entered the PCES, while those who were on board during fiscal year 2007 were, on average, about 1 year older at their original appointment to the PCES. In addition, the 87 employees, who entered the PCES in fiscal year 2007 were, on average, about 2 years older at their appointment than the 97 employees who entered in fiscal year 2000. (2) The average age of the 47 PCES employees who separated from the Service in either fiscal year 2000 or fiscal year 2007, was about 54.5 years in fiscal year 2000 (10 separations) and about 55.6 years in fiscal year 2007 (37 separations)--an increase of about 1.1 years. Retirements accounted for 35 of the 47 separations. The average age, at retirement, for these 35 employees increased from about 55.9 years (6 employees) to about 56.6 years (29 employees) between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2007--an increase of about 0.7 years. (3) Two of the 959 PCES employees on board during fiscal year 2000 reported a condition that constituted a targeted disability, whereas none of the 867 PCES employees on board during fiscal year 2007 reported a targeted disability. An individual with a targeted disability has at least one of nine specific physical and mental conditions, including deafness, blindness, and mental illness. Another seven PCES employees reported having a disability in fiscal year 2000, while eight reported a disability in fiscal year 2007. However none of the conditions they reported constituted a targeted disability. Twenty PCES employees chose not to provide information on their disability status in fiscal year 2000, followed by 22 who chose not to disclose this information in fiscal year 2007. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employees governmentwide may not report these data due to concerns that such a disclosure will (1) preclude them from employment or advancement, (2) subject them to discrimination, or (3) not remain confidential.

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