Our objective was to evaluate the U.S. Postal Service’s management of city letter carrier routes.
The Postal Service’s mission is to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient mail and package shipping services to all Americans. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, the Postal Service’s City Delivery Operations delivered over 77.7 billion mail pieces on more than 140,000 city routes. Mail is delivered on these routes by more than 171,000 city letter carriers and over 34,000 city carrier assistants.
City Delivery Operations consist of two components – office and street operations. A city letter carrier route is comprised of both assigned office duties, such as casing mail, as well as street duties, like collecting and delivering mail to customers. Management should review each city carrier route’s baseline workload (e.g., assigned delivery points and volume) annually to ensure it is equivalent to a standard 8-hour workday.
To maintain an 8-hour workday, delivery supervisors monitor efficiency and adjust for changes in workload. They use several methods including street observations, minor route adjustments, and mail count and route inspections. Supervisors record these results in the Delivery Operation Information System (DOIS), which allows them to manage routes and letter carrier assignments daily.
Since FY 2015, the Postal Service experienced a significant change in the mail mix, resulting in a 16 percent decrease in First-Class Mail volume and a 62 percent increase in package volume. Even prior to the dramatic package growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic in FY 2020, package volume had increased steadily over the previous ten years, except in FY 2019 when volume flattened due to competition. As a result, city letter carriers delivered fewer letters and flats and more packages, which are often larger and take more time to deliver. With about 80 percent of a letter carrier’s day spent on the street, supervisors must monitor and record any changes in the volume profile or other workload factors to ensure that each route can be accomplished in an 8-hour workday.
For this audit, the OIG reviewed nationwide city letter carrier route data and conducted a review of 12 judgmentally selected delivery units in 11 districts from the four areas.
The Postal Service did not always effectively manage city letter carrier routes. Package base volumes and route hours recorded in DOIS did not always reflect the average volume and workhours on routes. In addition, existing delivery performance technologies could alleviate manual processes associated with completing observations, minor route adjustments, and mail count and route inspections.
Source: USPS Office of Inspector General