The Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) allows the U.S. Postal Service to track mail in real time from acceptance to delivery without the need for seeding and sampling of pieces.

The IMb is an information-rich barcode applied to mail pieces for automation discounts, free address corrections, and other services known as full-service mail, which serves as the cornerstone of the Postal Service’s official measurement system.

However, not every piece of mail is full-service IMb. And even some full-service pieces do not get scanned because of untrackable barcodes, unknown acceptance times, no barcode scans, or inaccuracies in mail preparation.

In fact, nearly a quarter of all full-service mail is excluded from service performance measurement, our recent audit report noted, which means USPS can’t see exactly where these pieces are in the entire mail stream.

While the number of full-service pieces excluded from measurement decreased by 2 billion pieces from FYs 2017 to 2018, more than 21.7 billion mailpieces (or 21.7 percent) of all full-service mail was still excluded in FY 2018. That percentage was slightly higher (23.4 percent) for the first quarter of FY 2019.

We found that about three-quarters of excluded mail occurred due to three reasons: no start-the-clock (acceptance) scan, no piece scan, and long haul, which occurs when the Postal Service transports a mailpiece from a mailer’s facility, or detached mail unit, to a processing facility in a different district. USPS doesn’t currently have an automated process to determine the specific time mail leaves a detached mail unit to start its service performance measurement.

We found the Postal Service has not addressed various root causes for excluded mail. Furthermore, we found the Postal Service didn’t notify mailers with the most excluded mail about why their mail was excluded. We recommended better communication with mailers and with district personnel, who are supposed to contact mailers.

We recommended the Postal Service explore forming a workgroup with mailers that have the largest amount of mail excluded from measurement to develop a plan for fixing issues. We also recommended that the Postal Service ensure that area and district officials understand their roles and responsibilities related to this excluded mail.

What would you suggest the Postal Service do to reduce the amount of full-service mail excluded from service performance measurement?

Comments (3)

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  • anon

    This corrupt trick begins in the bulk mail entry units and trickles unnoticeable through this "start the clock" scanning scheme. We are instructed, in the bulk mail acceptance units, to bypass outgoing distribution schemes, and only scan manifest mailings on the local level. The BMEUs process @ 55% of the total mailing volume, so this bypass always skews their delivery statistics. They are such devious, yet clever, bureaucrats in middle management.

    Jan 17, 2020
  • anon

    I would do what worked so well for cans and plastic bags, have each piece require a deposit, higher deposit would ensure more mail being delivered correctly. Add a penny tip to the carriers for each correctly delivered item, or even make it the only pay their receive, or fine mail workers for each piece of lost mail.. like 95% of cans now get returned with just adding 5 cent deposit. Add gps tracking chips to mail items and these objects can be what your return for the deposit. And that’s how easy it is to solve the worlds problems, just ask me!! Tested to be the worlds best problem solver.. what else needs solved? :)

    Jan 15, 2020
  • anon

    Intelligent people get the job done right the first time. Because they don't depend on theirselves looking to others, not only win wars but save Nations.

    Jan 14, 2020

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