May 1, 2014 – (This article appears in the May-June 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Michael Foster, Motor Vehicle Service Division Director
The Zero Base Initiative, which is the Postal Service’s new terminology for the old Breakthrough Productivity Initiative (BPI), is causing concern among many Motor Vehicle Craft union members.
While the name has changed, the stated goal of the program remains the same: to improve vehicle utilization by eliminating unnecessary transportation, reducing the number of trips, and curtailing unassigned drive time.
That sounds great – if only there were excesses to cut!
Unfortunately, most PVS operations are short of complement, which is clearly demonstrated by extreme amounts of overtime. Another indicator of short-staffing is the increase in the amount of doubling-up that is necessary to meet dispatches.
How They Work
To find opportunities to make cuts, Zero Base teams conduct audits of transportation operations, using teams of transportation officials from other locations. They begin by conducting an “entrance meeting” with key players, including local managers.
The entrance meeting presents an opportunity to discover the methodology the Postal Service plans to use, as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
Next, the teams conduct an audit, observing transportation operations to find ways to “improve efficiency.”
They evaluate whether there are too many trips to a single location, whether there is sufficient mail volume to justify a given run, whether vehicle utilization matches mail volume, etc.
After teams have conducted their observations, they hold an “exit meeting,” where they share their findings and recommendations.
All MVS Craft Directors should find out when the entrance and exit meetings will be held and request to participate in them. The local should also request copies of the Zero Base reports.
If possible, the local should set up a strategy meeting with all drivers before the audit begins, to relay information disclosed at the entrance meeting. Drivers should be made aware of the process that will take place and they should be reminded to properly document trips so that the record reflects reality. Special emphasis should be given to annotating extra trips and doubling- up on trips, which will show the need for additional runs and/or drivers.