on Aug 18th, 2011 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 31 comments
 
The U.S. Postal Service’s network was designed to deliver First-Class Mail in 1 to 3 days. If you drop a First-Class letter going to a local address in the mail, you can expect it to be delivered the next day. These basic delivery standards date from a time before e-mail and other electronic methods of of communication. Now, as some First-Class Mail shifts to electronic alternatives, are these service standards worth the cost? The overnight First-Class Mail service standard requires the Postal Service to keep its processing plants open through the night and on Sundays. The Postal Service needs more labor, machines, and facility space to meet the compressed time schedule. Two trips are often needed to take mail to the delivery unit so that carriers can start sorting manual mail while machines at the plant finish sorting automated mail. In addition, the tight transportation windows required by the overnight service standard limit the size of plants’ service areas, reducing the Postal Service’s ability to consolidate the network. The 2-day and 3-day standards for First-Class Mail and Priority Mail can also add to costs. Often the need to meet service standards means that First-Class Mail and Priority Mail have to travel by air rather than less expensive ground transportation. Some of the Postal Service’s largest business mailers have stated they value consistency over high speed and would tolerate slightly slower service to save costs. As the Postal Service examines many different alternatives to improve its financial position, could relaxing service standards be an option? The OIG asked Christensen Associates to examine the costs that could be avoided by relaxing service standards by 1 day. Christensen estimated the Postal Service could save up to $1.5 billion if service standards were loosened by 1 day for its higher speed products (First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, and Periodicals). To learn more, read the recently released white paper Cost of Service Standards. What do you think? Should the Postal Service relax the overnight service standard? Should it continue to use air transportation for First-Class Mail? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

31 Comments


Comment

The Post Office should be allowed to rasie the price of stamps. As Exxon answer and other oil corporations make outragous profits off the backs of all Americans- the Post Office suffers with all Americans.
I am sick and tired of the oil companies distroying our Country. The Post Office deserves to rasie the rate of the postage stamp.
Put out that question. We The People will support you.
And the fact Congress turned you down is another example of their lack of concern for the working class.
How many jobs are at risk? What if the Post Office could hire all the workers they need? Congress and the Senate should be ashamed of themselves.
This sounds like the 1920-30's. But, please stand tall. Ask for support from the public who use you day and out. This important.

To the extreme, I think the Post Office should sue the oil corporations for the profits they made off the Post Office and putting the Post Office at risk.

Doing away with 25,000 postal jobs is NOT the answer either. It is adding to the tragic attack on jobs in the United States.

Fight for what is honest and right. A 48 or 50 cent stamp is a start. Don't let the truth be blurred by those who look to profit off the suffering of working American Postal Service.
Stand Proud and be loud and let Americans stand tall with you.
And point out the oil companies absolute blame for the record breaking profits. 40 billion dollar quarterly profits?

If the Postal Service "relaxes" their delivery times, it will be the deciding factor that runs them into the ground! To stay competitive and alive, it needs to increase delivery speed, not delay it! Priority mail is not any faster than first class in delivery times as it is. With less mail, the Postal Service should be running more efficiently, not less! It's time to downsize and reorganize the Postal Service to meet the demands of the quantity of mail and trim the excess fat that is bogging them down!

The white paper does not take into consideration that working mail at night (6pm - 6am) is a choice by management. Working mail on Tour-2 was always done, but a decision was made to all but eliminate Tour-2 and work the majority of mail on Tour-1. Mail is available on Tour-2 and could be worked thus reducing the amount of mail for Tour-1 and also ensuring that more mail could be moved to the Stations and Branches in the early morning. So the premium pay could be reduced considerably. Also, there used to be dispatches to Stations in the afternoon and the clerks worked that mail when received, so it was available in the morning. This is another casualty of shutting down Tour-2. The Postal Service's problems are not only with electronic devices, its a lot of bad decisions which did not work well or work at all. Rebuild confidence in the consumers and volume will increase. Make what we have work well and we will get customers back. People have not stopped mailing. They have stopped mailing with USPS because they have lost faith.

Absolutely agree with Bridget. Businesses are raising prices all around us, but the Postal Service has a Board which decides price increases. Makes no sense. A increase of just 6 cents (.44 to .50) would seriously help the PO. And it needs to be made clear to the American public that the Postal Service does not use taxpayer money to operate and is not part of the country's deficit. Since this is a "service" and it is self-supported and actually has a better botom line than Congress ever has, why are they (Congress) so hot to screw things up? Get out of the way and clean their own house before messing with someone else's.

The postal service recently changed the way my local newspaper is delivered to my mail box. It now takes 6 days for me to receive my paper. It used to take one day.

This is a weekly paper and 6 days after publication, the news is stale. Any sales I want to take advantage of are picked over as well.

Now the postal service takes our newspaper 50 miles away before it is routed back to us. You'd think it would be faster than six days...

Before the change the county newspapers remained at the post offices and were picked up by the county route courrier for next day deliveries.

The postal service talks about saving money. How do they save money by sending items on a walkabout?

I for one, will be getting my newspaper at the local store instead of having it delivered by the postal service. I am not the only customer to do so.

If the postal service is losing revenue, it is because they have shot themselves in the foot.

C. Chaney fails to understand how much money was saved years ago when plants stopped processing mail on Tour 2. The only way to have first class mail available to process on tour 2 would be to delay it--the carriers have not picked it up yet, and they have already left for the streets so what was being processed? It was a cost saving measure and simpler to process the first class and the standard all at the same time, instead of paying an entirely different tour of employees to work for what most people consider "junk" mail. This latest proposal will finally remove the remainder of the waste from the system.

Reducing plants, relaxing standards???
Use what you have. As others have pointed out, the plants have the equipment, use it. Spread the processing out.
At the stations they still continue to get Hotshot runs with NO mail, since they reduced tour 2. Put some mail on the trucks and let the clerks work the mail in afternoons. Another benefit would be the pressing need to have staffing in the morning and not need the clerks later in the day.
Did I say use the equipment to process, use the trucks that already run empty and use the clerks to sort the mail in the afternoons
Use the equipment, use the infrasture that is in place.

And stop requiring Postmasters to redeliver the mail to the appropriate office when it is misdelivered from the plant. Again HUGE waste of time.

I'm on a roll. Why is it necessary to have mail up in PO boxes by a set time in the morning? Customer gets delivery by the end of the day . . . lets say 6pm. Every day. period.
No more rushing around attempting to distribute and deliver mail and no more FALSE SPMS scans.
Again a joke.

Use our equipment, our infrastructure our people and stop seeking that score that provides a bonus.

No more EAS bonuses attached to false scores.

Okay . .. off my soapbox.

my parcel from the USA to Namibia (Africa)seems to have been lost, i cannot contact the USPO because they DO NOT HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS!
Please can you help?
The parcel was posted on the 2nd of July 2011 and the reference/tracking number is CP827918059US
My name is Mark Welthagen from Swakopmund Namibia, my phone number is +264 81 1247039
Please can you help?
regards
Mark

Here is last scan on custom form info you provided. "Processed Through Sort Facility

Your item was processed through our FOREIGN CENTERJERSEY CITY NJ 099 facility on July 06, 2011 at 11:40 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination."

You can access this info, via website "www.usps.gov" and input your custom number into the tracking search.

Also on this site you can email. But just in case you have difficulty here is the URL:

http://faq.usps.com/eCustomer/iq/usps/request.do?create=kb:USPSFAQ&forward=inquiryType

I hope this will be of assistance to you.

http://faq.usps.com/eCustomer/iq/usps/request.do?create=kb:USPSFAQ&forward=inquiryType

my letter was received in the united states on 28th Feb & was in the sort mail post office on March 1st. But still has not been issued for delivery. I had received a phone all from my main post office today stating that it has to be released from customs?. Please explain to me why a general letter is being held up by customs? for almost a Month to be delivered. when extra cost was charged for it to be sent & confirmation for it to be signed as this is an important letter. Thank you.

I read the OIG commissioned study. Very detailed, very expensive, but I continue to marvel that we (USPS) sells "service" and now we are evaluating how to reduce service with slower standards and fewer delivery days. Where, in American business, do we reduce service? (Maybe I don't want to know that answer!) As has been suggested by others above, we do a fantastic job but do not charge enough. UPS and FEDEX have figured out how raise rates EVERY YEAR in order to remain profitable. USPS employees work hard and deserve a living wage! The PM General should be lobbying to raise rates instead of carving up the USPS.

This will fix nothing as long as we Delivery any mail for less than the cost of processing, the law states each class of mail must cover their cost, lets first fix this. Their is no use giving volume discounts if we can not cover our costs. The bottom line fix, The president needs to dismiss all the Board of Govneres, Then the PMG, we needed leaders who beleive in the service we are suppose to be providing to the people of this country, we do not need leadres that are only intrested in handouts, or in the case of the PMG making friends with outsode companies who will be his next employer.

There are pors and cons to both, I am leaning towards relaxing the overnight service standard.

http://www.myspace.com/thomas_hack

The postal services needs to raise its rates to .50 cent per stamp.

I'm not sure if it's possible to relax the standards for only one class of mail, but if it is then I think a fair compromise would be to relax transit times on Standard Mail by 2 days, while leaving First Class and Priority Mail as-is.

Nearly all legitimate mail such as bills, statements, correspondence from companies I do business with, etc. is sent via First Class. On the other hand, the unsolicited junk mail I receive looks like it's all sent via standard mail.

I would rather receive important mail promptly and let the junk mail wait a few days, so I would accept without hesitation a delay of a few extra days on Standard Mail. And if possible, I think more money can be saved by not delivering Standard Mail on Saturdays.

Junk mailers have no effective alternatives and can't really jump ship and go elsewhere, so I think they can tolerate a few reasonable compromises that can actually benefit everyone.

After doing a lot of research, I've chosen to use USPS First Class or Priority Mail almost exclusively. The cost and speed are superior to that of the competitors, so I can only hope it will stay that way.

The definition of local in the phrase overnight service standards should be adjusted to distance from the mail processing center rather than the customer. If the distance is greater than say 50 miles than the delivery standard should be dropped to two day delivery for what is currently considered local. The impending consolidation of mail processing centers will make overnight First Class Mail and locally originating delivery standards difficult for some offices. As such, offices outside of the fifty mile radius would expect their mail to take and extra day to be delivered.

The last thing you need to be doing is relaxing your delivery time. I mailed a express mail package off on Saturday the 27th, if was supposed to be at it destination on the 29th. As of today 30th 10:34pm you guys don't have a clue as too where my family highly sensitive package is. The tracking system you have is years behind Fedex and UPS. If you relax a service that is outdated expect more people to use other companies.

Well something has to give when a money order sent by Priority Mail is taking not 1 to 3 days but up to 2 weeks to be delivered. This has happened to me on several occasions now and I can only assume the PO is either overwhelmed by mail or underwhelmed by it's own efficiency or lack thereof. How about considering a reduction in the not inconsiderable and guaranteed pensions that come with most if not all USPS jobs which amounts to quite a massive funding cost. Sorry USPS but everyone else is hurting in this economy and taking cuts.

USUP sink or swim! Delaying your shipping WILL put the final nail in your coffin.

I have an idea that I am sure would be very helpful for the Post Office and very cost effective. It is very simple and easy to apply and would not cost much to set up. I believe the cost savings would be substantial and could be tried in a small test area again for little cost. Could you direct me to the person I need to talk too or the web site that could he;p me.
Thank You
Milton Muhlfelder

It's real easy -make standard mail pay it's own way.

It does not even cover the cost of delivery now.

Stop all transportation that runs empty and there is a lot
of waste in this area. I work as an expeditor at a processing plant.
Transportaion could be cut in half. Huge savings.

Relaxing of service standards is the LAST thing the post office should thinking.

Also I am waiting on the OIG study on why it takes one manager for every 5 employees. Too many layers of management is a HUGE part of the problem.

Comment

This message is for Paul Vogel, USPS:

The USPS needs to begin a new email system where the owner of each home in the US is issued an email address for a system controlled by the government. The email addresses should be based the following:
exampleaddress.gov, or whatever extension is necessary. Every homeowner in the country would have the ownership of this email, and renters could apply for these same emails through their landlords if they don't own a home. This would allow the government to begin to catch up with technology and deliver communications through this new method. Sending a message of words on a written piece of paper is an obsolete form of communication. It's time for the governement of the U.S. to move forward. I think this would be an innovative start.

That's my idea. I believe now is the time to try innovation. Thank you.

My local post office told me, when I checked on a local delivery after 3 days if non-receipt, that the average local delivery was 3 days. So what is the answer: management's or the local post office itself? I love the sayinag, "It's a symptom of a greater proglem."

Instead of closing small post offices, why not stop door to door delivery. Isn't door to door delivery the most expensive part of the post office? Instead, everyone would have a P O Box, and most of these small offices could be handled by a clerk instead of a Postmaster. At this point you may not even need to charge for P O Boxes.

Instead of shuting down the postal bussiness, just cancel out Sat. mail delevery and shut down the post office's on Saturday.

USPS needs to relax and eliminate policies that inhibit customer service. Clearly the policies are intended to serve only USPS. Several times I have attempted to use Click-n-Ship but my scale measures package weight differently than the post office scale. Instead of shipping my item and allowing me to pay the difference, USPS returns the package, makes me print a new label, makes me request a refund for the "incorrect" label, and makes me waste a lot of time and money kissing their ***. USPS is so caught up on their policies that they cannot provide a practical, efficient, customer oriented service. Get your act together or get out of the shipping business!

Consolidate deliveries. Most communities on the East coast still get their mail at their front door. Staff can be reduced by using community mail boxes at the end of streets. These boxes are also more secure. Put more of the self-service package mailing machines in post office lobbies.

Creating secure Virtual Post Office:

1) online virtual money orders
2) pobox holders offered UPS consumer
Email
3) scanner station to electronically transmit
& time stamp for sensitive
correspondence
4) provide shipping container transport
services from point a to point b
Note: businesses & consumer furniture
5) usps proprietory digital document security
which is recognized in courts and other
official places of business
6) UPS university: educate, train and instruct
Note: 2nd & third world countries on best
practices and applcations
7) outsource trained personnel to perform
Mailing tasks for private businesses &
Non profits
8) create motivational camps for personnel
9) incorporate that all personnel have
strengths and weaknesses and Target
into service areas accordingly
10) the model "Ford" system needs to be
re-considered....historically it was an
imposed mechanical...seek and
implement a more sustainible process

It seems a critical issue if private carriers are going to increasingly be used (and pushed by conservatives in gorvernment) for non electronic mail delivery that some mechanism for registering private carriers enabling them to deliver mail to "mail boxes" at people's houses will be required. The biggest hassle of privatized mail is having to be present for the delivery.

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