USPS OIG: Does First-Class Mail Get First Class Service?

September 20, 2021
Sometimes our auditors look at specific incidents or facilities. Other times, especially when concerns are raised, we examine broader, more systemic issues. So, what did we do when more than 70 members of Congress asked us to look into the persistent declines in on-time mail delivery in 17 postal districts? We opened one heck of an audit.

In our recently released report, we examined the full mail cycle – mail processing, transportation, and delivery – of First-Class Single Piece letter mail. We reviewed the performance of 19 mail processing plants and 34 delivery units spanning across the 17 districts.

We found significant declines in First-Class Mail performance nationally with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Service performance at the 17 selected districts trended comparably but with lower scores. What contributed to the decline? A flood of packages into the network, combined with low availability of experienced employees overloaded many plants. Other mail processing and transportation constraints didn’t help, and some mail facilities had to use resources to offload mail to alternative plants.

To avoid a repeat of this in the future, some of the report’s recommendations included 1) developing tools to better identify and react to problems in underperforming facilities, and 2) plans for hiring and processing to manage the upcoming peak mailing season.

Want to know how well First-Class Mail performs in your postal district? Visit our Service Performance page.

Source: USPS Office of Inspector General

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