A quote from a new GAO report:
In fiscal year 2012, USDA policy on supervisory ratios did not align with Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidance that states that an analytical approach can help agencies achieve the right balance of supervisory and nonsupervisory positions to support their missions. Instead, USDA's policy stated that all its agencies, regardless of their missions, should aim for a target ratio of one supervisor for at least nine employees (1:9). USDA officials were not able to provide a documented basis for this target ratio. In addition, USDA did not ensure that the service center agencies calculated their supervisory ratios the same way. As a result, USDA did not receive comparable information on supervisory ratios.Now I firmly believe that Al's National Performance Review included an initiative to reduce the number of supervisors (though I don't see it highlighted in the linked document). I remember because in ASCS what happened was that work units were renamed without much real change in function. I also remember because my branch ended up growing to 14 or so people, more than I could effectively manage, particularly given my weakness for taking on additional projects. (Though I can't really blame Al for that growth.)
I haven't read the report, just the summary, but IMHO a fixed supervisor/employee ratio makes no sense.