The purpose of this alert is to bring to your attention the need to immediately address the timeliness of mail processing following the January 5, 2015, service standard revisions. These revisions were expected to affect about 14 billion pieces of total mail volume and up to 16 percent of First-Class Mail®. These revisions enabled the U.S. Postal Service to expand the mail processing operational window, allowing mail to be processed over a longer period of time than previously. They also paved the way to reduce the number of machines and locations required to process the mail.
The service standard revisions included the elimination of single-piece overnight First-Class Mail service and also shifted a portion of mail from a 2-day service standard to a 3-day service standard. According to a June 2014 Postal Service commissioned study, more than 80 percent of consumers say that adding one delivery day to local and national mail would have “no effect” or it would be a “change (they) could easily adapt to.” This alert includes analysis of First-Class Mail service following the service standard revisions. We plan to analyze service performance for other classes of mail during our audit of mail processing and transportation operational changes.
Processing and distribution centers nationwide had to adjust their mail processing and transportation operations to meet the critical entry times (CET), clearance times, and dispatches of value associated with the new, expanded operational window. This was the largest change that has ever been made to the nationwide network of mail processing and transportation operations.
These changes took place during a major effort to align plants with mail volume, which is known as Network Rationalization. Phase I involved consolidating 141 mail processing facilities between 2012 and 2013. Under Phase II, begun in January 2015, the Postal Service planned to consolidate 82 additional facilities by October 2015. However, many stakeholders have voiced concerns that delayed mail is increasing and service is declining as a result of major network changes. In May 2015, the Postal Service’s chief operating officer (COO) announced that, in response to customers’ concerns about the need to stabilize service performance, the Postal Service would delay implementation of Phase II consolidations. However, the COO did not provide a definite date for resuming the consolidations.
Mail was not being processed timely throughout the country. We found in the first 6 months of 2015 delayed processing increased by about 494 million mailpieces (a 48 percent increase), as compared to the same period last year (SPLY) (see Figure 1 above).