City delivery office operations cover all duties a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier performs in the office. These duties include casing mail (placing mail in delivery order), preparing parcels for delivery, and retrieving accountable items. City carriers are delivering more packages and fewer letters to more addresses each year. The Postal Service seeks to accommodate these changes while maintaining efficiency.
In fiscal year (FY) 2015, Houston District city carriers delivered over 2.1 billion mailpieces on 3,181 routes to more than 2.1 million delivery points. To do so, they used over 1.8 million city delivery office workhours.
Our objective was to assess the efficiency of city delivery office operations in the Houston District.
What the OIG Found
The Houston District has opportunities to enhance efficiency in city delivery office operations. For FY 2015, the district’s percent to standard – a measurement used to assess office efficiency – was 117.21 percent. This is 9.19 percentage points above the national average of 108.02 percent. A percent to standard score greater than 100 indicates performance is less than the desired standard.
During FY 2015, 50 of the district’s 114 delivery units (44 percent) used 174,912 more office workhours than necessary. This averages about 17 more minutes of office time per day, or 440 more minutes per month, on each city carrier route. These additional workhours cost the district more than $11.1 million for the 2-year period of FYs 2014 and 2015.
Excess workhours were used because mail sometimes arrived late and the mail mix was sometimes incorrect, or carriers engaged in time-wasting practices. In addition, mail arrival profiles (used to establish staffing levels and mail arrival times by type and quantity) were non-existent, unsigned, or outdated. Finally, managers did not enforce policies and procedures. Eliminating the extra workhours would increase overall efficiency at delivery units and allow a future cost avoidance of about $8.4 million annually.
We also identified inadequate safeguards over cash, money orders, and stamp stock at seven delivery units. Management immediately initiated corrective action on these matters; therefore, we are not making a recommendation on this issue.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended the district manager, Houston District, eliminate 174,912 workhours at delivery units by eliminating inefficient office practices, preparing up-to-date mail arrival profiles, and ensuring policies and procedures are followed.
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Source: USPS Office of Inspector General