Span of Control

I. Scope

This policy applies to all organizational units (divisions, departments, etc.) at the university. This policy does not apply to instructional or research faculty.

II. Policy Statement

A. Target Span of Control

George Mason University’s overall target span of control is 4 or more direct reports per supervisor within 5 years (Fiscal Year 2024).

B. Minimum Number of Direct Reports per Supervisor and Process for Exceptions

Supervisors may not supervise fewer than two direct reports. Exceptions may be made by Human Resources if the addition of employees is required to fulfill statutory requirements; if the safety of employees or students requires additional employees; if the supervisor is a working supervisor who supervises only one employee; or in other cases of business necessity if the request is approved by a Vice President or Dean.

C. Circumstances that Necessitate the Use of a Supervisory Position

George Mason University is divided into units, departments, and schools by function and specialized knowledge. The circumstances that necessitate the use of a supervisory position include when specific technical knowledge is required to effectively manage employees, when safety requires more direct management of employees, and if a supervisory position is required to comply with state or federal law.

D. Establishment of New Supervisor Positions

Newly-established supervisor positions that are created due to a reorganization or the addition of new programs should include more than two direct reports. Establishing a supervisory role for the purpose of retaining or recruiting a new employee is not permitted.

E. Reports on Spans of Control

Human Resources annually calculates each supervisor’s number of direct reports and the average and median spans of control of each division, and identifies all supervisors with fewer than six direct reports. Human Resources then creates a report on Mason’s spans of control which is communicated to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) and the Board of Visitors (BOV) annually.

HR Liaisons are responsible for reporting accurate data to Human Resources when employees are hired or changes to the number of supervisors or direct reports are made in their departments. HR Liaisons are also responsible for reviewing the information that Human Resources collects on their departments and confirming that it is correct.

III. Definitions

Direct Reports – means the employees whose performance is managed by a particular supervisor.

Span of Control (Spans) – means the average number of direct reports per manager.

Supervisor – means an employee who is responsible for managing the performance of other employees.

Working Supervisor – means a supervisor who is responsible for managing the performance of his or her direct reports while performing the same essential job functions as the direct reports.

IV. Dates:

A. Effective Date:

This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Provost and Executive Vice President.

B. Date of Most Recent Review:


V. Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.

VI. Signatures



Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance


Provost and Executive Vice President

Date approved: May 24, 2018