on Sep 24th, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 3 comments
The U.S. Postal Service recently reported that its third quarter delivery service performance results marked “all-time record service performance” across all mail categories. In particular, the Postal Service had significant improvement in delivery performance for its commercial mail products in First Class and Standard Mail. Periodicals’ on-time performance topped 80 percent for the first time since 2010, a major improvement over the 46 percent score from earlier this year. The improved service performance in the third quarter occurred while the Postal Service was in the process of consolidating 46 facilities, which some mailers feared would affect service. But initial reports suggest service has not been overtly disrupted by the consolidations, although the real test could come during the fall and holiday mailing seasons. The Postal Service recently completed this first phase of its network rationalization plan, and is now on a break from consolidation until 2013 after the election season. Postal officials have attributed the improvement in service performance to diagnostic tools that show “pinch points” and help managers to act on that information to reduce cycle times. The Intelligent Mail Barcode full-service data, which identifies many potential problems, is also helping and employees are doing outstanding work often under difficult circumstances. It will be important for the Postal Service to maintain strong service performance as volumes pick up during the fall mailing season and election mail is added to the mix. Further, the second phase of consolidations could begin in February 2013 and could have an impact on service. Finally, mailers report that they are not solely concerned with service scores but that the Postal Service delivers the mail as promised. What has been your experience with service over the past few months? Have you been affected by the consolidations? Are you concerned about phase two of the network consolidation plan?


The Data Analysis and Performance directorate of the OIG is currently accepting comments and feedback on their project website for the Intelligent Mail Barcode Mailing Data Availability and Analysis audit. This audit is designed to review the usage of Intelligent Mail Barcode data and its overall availability to relevant users. Any further comments on this audit project would be appreciated.


The USPS is notorious for only presenting favorable data, and/or skewing the circumstances so that the outcome is predetermined. Phase I consolidations were carefully selected and planned so that the facilities being consolidated would not cause issues or delays, so that the Postal Service could package up a success story and push forward. If they did not think Phase II of the consolidations would not adversely effect delivery, they would not have placed a moratorium on those consolidations in the first place.

The diagnostic information used by the USPS is not real time, and only covers Full Service IMb mailings (which, on the Standard mail side, still does not account for the lion's share of that class of mail due to the lack of Full Service value to those mailers). The true test of the recent service performance gains is coming up right now, September through December. It will be interesting to see if there are any hiccups during this time period.

The USPS issuing a report on their improved service is a little like the fox running the hen house. I've sent exactly two packages via USPS in the last 6 months to single family residential addresses in large cities. One went completely missing despite the loss being "investigated", the other is currently 5 days late and USPS has no idea where it is or when it will arrive. Internal services metrics are useless if they do not translate into measurable external improvements.

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