How long does the mail take? Let the Postal Service count the days

1974.28.23 004April 9, 2015
The Postal Service is proposing to change the way it measures the on-time service performance of First Class Mail.  Instead of contracting a third-party to evaluate how long it takes for the mail to be delivered, the Postal Service wants to count the days itself.  The change requires the approval of the Postal Regulatory Commission, and yesterday several stakeholders and postal watchdogs filed comments to PRC Docket PI2015-1.

The current system is called External First-Class Measurement (EXFC).  The Postal Service has been using this system since 1990.  As the Postal Service explains on one of its quarterly performance reports:

“EXFC is a rigorous external sampling system measuring the time it takes from deposit of mail into a collection box or lobby chute until its delivery to a home or business.  EXFC measures the transit time for single-piece rate First- Class cards, letters, and flat envelopes and compares this actual service against service standards.”

The EXFC system is conducted by an external independent third-party — IBM — and it measures the end-to-end length of time it takes for mail to be delivered.  The participants, known as droppers and reporters, are supposed to be kept confidential, and the whole process is supposed to be conducted without managers and workers knowing which pieces are being tested.  The test mail is statistically analyzed based on sample volume, mail characteristics, and the location where the mail was entered and delivered.

The results of the EXFC tests are published quarterly on the USPS website here.  (For previous quarters, just change the dates in the URL.)

waiting_for_mailThe results typically show that the Postal Service is meeting its targets for First Class mail, with about 95 percent being delivered within the service standard for overnight and 2-day mail and about 85 percent for 3-5-day mail.

It should be noted that this high level of performance may be declining as a result of the new service standards that were introduced at the beginning of this year, which allowed the Postal Service to make significant changes in how mail is processed.  There have been many anecdotal reports of delays, and it’s likely that less mail is meeting the service standards.

In a motion filed yesterday, the APWU says just that: “At this time the new degraded service standards that went into effect on January 5, 2015, have not been met by most of the mail processing facilities across the country, including the losing and gaining facilities on the list for Consolidations or Closures. The EXFC scores show after 12 weeks that mail is being delayed.”

The service performance results for the second quarter of the fiscal year (January-March) have not been released yet, but they’re likely to show exactly what the APWU alleges.

Read More:  How long does the mail take? Let the Postal Service count the days | Save the Post Office.

One thought on “How long does the mail take? Let the Postal Service count the days

  1. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Cape Girardeau Area Local 4088
    Office held, if any
    Whistleblower, Member
    I used to personally witness supervisors pluck suspected EXFC mail pieces out of trays of delayed mail, to ensure that the test scores would stay up. They’d send a clerk out in a postal van to take the letters to whichever post office they were addressed to, leaving the regular mail behind. Of course USPS management wants to track performance standards itself, rather than using a third party. We know it would greatly improve performance in getting the mail from point A to point B on time, too. Just look at how much better our performance ratings based on Mail Condition Reports improved when USPS managers took over the counts. Look at how much money the USPS saves when USPS management does the mail counts for city and rural routes, of course it is interesting that periodicals and standard flats arriving in drop shipments always seem to be slow to make it to the carrier operations during mail counts…. it’s the strangest coincidence.

    Let’s see, we have the US Postal Inspection Service and the OIG who do not investigated delayed mail, except in the rare instance when a rogue Craft employee is responsible for the intentional delay of mail. If we can get rid of 3rd party monitoring and get our own managers on the case, why I’m betting there would soon be no delayed mail anywhere nationwide.

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