USPS OIG Report: Assessment of Postal Service Trailer Utilization


The U.S Postal Service contracts with suppliers that operate highway contract routes (HCR) to transport mail and equipment between plants, post offices, or other designated points that receive or dispatch mail. HCRs made up the largest single group of transportation services used by the Postal Service in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Postal Service has increased its emphasis on improving trailer utilization of HCRs and Postal Vehicle Services by developing strategies to eliminate underutilized trips and reduce transportation costs. Since FY 2020, trailer utilization has increased 11.58 percent and the Postal Service reported it eliminated 160,000 underutilized trips in an effort to increase trailer utilization and reduce transportation costs. Maximizing trailer utilization means ensuring that trailers are filled as close to capacity as is practicable for each trip.

What We Did

Our objective was to assess whether the Postal Service’s management of trailer utilization is effective. To accomplish our objective, we analyzed trailer utilization data, HCR schedules, and load scan performance for FY 2022. Further, we conducted observations at facilities with average trailer utilization above 65 percent, between 40 and 65 percent, and below 40 percent during FY 2022.

What We Found

The Postal Service has opportunities to improve its management of trailer utilization. Specifically, in FY 2022, 83 out of 441 facilities (19 percent) were below the target utilization goal of 40 percent. While the Postal Service has increased its emphasis and developed initiatives to address underutilized transportation, trips were still being underutilized because local transportation management did not consistently monitor and adjust transportation schedules. Additionally, trailer utilization was inaccurate due to load scans not being consistently completed. Specifically, in FY 2022, the Postal Service had an average load scan score of 85.79 percent. This was below the FY 2022 goals for load scans of 92 percent for logistics and 93.25 percent for processing and maintenance.


We recommended the Postal Service (1) coordinate with transportation management at sites with trailer utilization below 40 percent to identify underutilized trips for the Logistics team to review and approve for elimination; and (2) develop a plan to increase load scan scores to meet or exceed the scanning goal at each facility.

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Source: Office of Inspector General OIG

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