Nothing gets the attention of stakeholders like mail service issues. Late last year, our audit report on delayed mail generated headlines about inaccurately reported counts of delayed mail.
In our latest audit report on the topic, we find the U.S. Postal Service accurately reported delayed mail in the Great Lakes Area, an important step in meeting USPS service standards.
The Postal Service considers mail to be delayed when it is not processed in time to meet the established delivery day. Mail processing facilities are required to complete daily mail counts and report into the Web Mail Condition Reporting System (MCRS) all on-hand mail, delayed mail, late-arriving mail, and mail processed after the cut-off time.
The three processing facilities we reviewed accurately reported their delayed mail. We found no significant difference (less than a half-percent) between our counts and the Postal Service’s on the day of our observations at the three facilities.
However, one facility did not include all late-arriving mail and plan-failure mail (mail processed after the established cut-off time for completing mail processing) in their MCRS reports. When mail condition reports are not accurate, management uses incorrect information to make decisions on staffing, mail processing equipment use, transportation of mail, and preventive maintenance. This can ultimately affect performance goals and service standards.
Upon inspecting trailers at the facilities, we also found some First-Class Mail and Priority Mail that had not been processed for delivery nor were considered undeliverable for any reason, yet were mixed in with the Undeliverable Bulk Business Mail that was set for recycling. Management took immediate action upon notification of mail in the trailer.
Our previous reports have highlighted the potential for lost revenue from delayed mail, which spiked in 2015 after the Postal Service closed or consolidated more than 140 facilities as part of its plan to optimize its operations and workforce. And while USPS did not necessarily agree with our findings in last year’s report, it agreed with our recommendations in this current report. Most of our recommendations focused on training of personnel to ensure they are aware of mail reporting requirements and standard procedures for verifying and handling undeliverable bulk mail.