Strong consumer demand for goods purchased over the internet has driven growth in the package market despite otherwise declining mail volume. This growing package segment provides the U.S. Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue.
With this growth, city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCA) are now delivering more packages and fewer letters to more addresses each year. To accommodate these changes, the Postal Service must adapt to this changing mail mix while maintaining service and efficiency.
The South Florida District’s package volume increased from 116.6 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 131.8 million in FY 2017, an increase of 13.7 percent. This growth is a direct result of eCommerce, Sunday package delivery and grocery delivery services. In some areas, package deliveries now regularly occur early in the morning and sometimes as late as 10 p.m.
The Postal Service’s goal is for 95 percent of city letter carriers to return from street operations before 5 p.m. and 100 percent by 6 p.m. Carriers returning to their units on time helps the Postal Service meet its operational goals. In FY 2017, South Florida District city carriers and CCAs delivered about 2.8 billion mail pieces and 62 million packages to over 2.5 million delivery points on 3,876 routes. City carriers and CCAs returning after 6 p.m. in the South Florida District increased by 133 percent in FY 2017. We selected the South Florida District for review because it had the highest percentage of instances of carriers returning after 6 p.m. in the nation.
Our objective was to evaluate city carriers returning to the office after 6 p.m. in the South Florida District.
What the OIG Found
In FY 2017, only 58 percent of the South Florida District’s city carriers and CCAs returned to the office by 6 p.m.
Our visits to 15 randomly selected delivery units disclosed:
- 61 percent of city carriers and CCAs in these units returned by 6 p.m. Further, these units had 64,725 instances of carriers returning by 6 p.m.
- 11 of 15 units (73 percent) had 411 instances of carriers returning by 9 p.m.
- 5 of 15 (33 percent) units had 88 instances of carriers returning as late as 10 p.m.
These conditions occurred in these units due to:
- Late mail arrival and improper mail mix from all three district Processing & Distribution Centers (P&DC).
- Improper recording and reporting of late mail arrivals and improper mail mix in reporting systems.
- Incomplete, inaccurate, and outdated Mail Arrival Profiles and Integrated Operating Plans.
- Inaccurate route base package volume data on city routes.
- Vehicle breakdown and availability.
City carriers and CCAs returning to delivery units after 6 p.m. increased the district’s overtime and penalty overtime workhour costs. The South Florida District’s use of additional overtime and penalty overtime workhours resulted in about $21 million in questioned costs annually. Improving mail flow, adjusting routes and ensuring adequate vehicle availability could eliminate excess workhours after 6:00 p.m., and help the district realize a cost avoidance of $37 million annually.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Conduct a study of district mail processing operations at the three P&DCs to improve mail flow within and between the plants and to delivery units.
- Instruct delivery unit management to properly record and report all instances of late mail arrival and improper mail mix in the correct section in the Customer Service Daily Reporting System and Delivery Operations Information System.
- Update mail arrival profiles and integrated operating plans with agreement by plant and delivery unit management to reflect accurate mail arrival times, mail mix and mail.
- Develop and execute a plan to review current package volume data for city delivery units and modify route base package volumes and route values through the Route Count and Inspection process or minor route adjustments.
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Source: USPS Office of Inspector General