For some businesses, transportation is a simple matter, getting things from point A to point B, or maybe even getting things from point A to points B, C, and D. For the U.S. Postal Service, it’s a different level of complexity altogether.

Using both contractors and postal-owned transportation, the Postal Service manages an average daily flow of over 390 million mailpieces throughout its network, transporting to and from 285 processing plants and 35,000 retail locations. All of this transportation comes with a cost. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 alone, USPS spent around $8.8 billion on transportation ($5.7 billion on surface transportation and $3.1 billion on air transportation).

In our recent audit, Transportation Network Optimization and Service Performance, our auditors examined the surface and air networks and assessed the opportunities to save money while still meeting service goals. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our auditors visited eight processing plants and four terminal handling services facilities and utilized efficiency and service metrics to understand how the best and worst performing facilities were operating.

Our audit found that the Postal Service spent over $550 million in extra transportation costs to mitigate delays in the network: $410 million from the surface network and $140 million in the air network. These extra costs came largely as a result of extra trips, late trips, and overtime. Many of these costs were associated with misaligned scheduling, insufficient management oversight of day-to-day operations, a shortage of drivers and network managers, and inefficient use of air carriers.

What opportunities do you see for the Postal Service to save money in its transportation network?

Comments (18)

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  • anon

    How about you save money by not shipping packages multiple places when they are miles from there destination key example below this crap has happened multiple times to my packet over past 12 months packages delivered to me for others and my packages delivered to others laziness I am sure if they can;t do the job fire them. Oh I am in Kansas By the way??? September 15, 2020, 7:34 am Departed USPS Regional Facility JERSEY CITY NJ NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER Your item departed our USPS facility in JERSEY CITY NJ NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER on September 15, 2020 at 7:34 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination. September 15, 2020, 2:28 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility JERSEY CITY NJ NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 15, 2020, 12:58 am Departed USPS Regional Facility TRENTON NJ DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 14, 2020, 11:41 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility TRENTON NJ DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 13, 2020, 6:24 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility KANSAS CITY KS NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 13, 2020, 4:59 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility KANSAS CITY KS NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 13, 2020, 7:07 am Departed USPS Regional Facility CHICAGO IL NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 12, 2020, 11:58 am Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility CHICAGO IL NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER September 11, 2020, 1:02 pm USPS picked up item WEST CHICAGO, IL 60185

    Sep 15, 2020
  • anon

    Saving money by defraying costs. Create a new website to facilitate sale and tracking of advertising on USPS trucks. This site would explain all costs and steps to advertisers. Space on trucks would be based on the zip code they travel. Every truck's daily path is/will be known to some computer whose data can be used as a step in the advertiser's specs. At some schedule, the consumer would (templates avail on web site?), design, or import the graphic. They would choose a route and duration. The graphics file would, after payment, go to a print shop to print onto a magnetic sign. Signs would be sent to the relevant P.O. A few minutes extra in the AM would be req'd to pass out the signs to the drivers who would affix them. At the end of their 'run', the signs would be shipped back to the printer by USPS transport, to be re-used. Imagine if a nationwide corp. like Coca-Cola did an advertising blitz? There is large money here. Separate charges for those trucks to be parked facing the road during non-travel times?? Imagine the granularity offered on a per neighborhood basis.

    Aug 22, 2020
  • anon

    There is no doubt that the post office needs to be overhauled/helped. Lift some of the massive, current restrictions placed on the post office concerning the amount of money it has to set aside for retirement packages. No other government agency or private business has such restrictions. Stop Saturday delivery as a saving measure. The post office does not need to be used as a political strong arm tactic by the president to disenfranchise fair voting. Dismembering the post office is despicable at any time, as many Americans need its service and need it to be reliable. Please do something immediately , at minimum, to restore what we had before the current head of the post office was appointed.

    Aug 14, 2020
  • anon

    Why would a package from Lafayette, IN being shipped to Evansville, IN (200 miles south) get shipped to Pittsburgh, PA, (420 miles east) and sit there for 3 days? Now going on 3 days past the time it was supposed to arrive in Evansville. Fortunately, it is "still in transit," so I hope not lost...

    Aug 10, 2020
  • anon

    FOLLOW UP TO PREVIOUS COMMENTS ABOUT THE USPS to the White House - I suggest that he REQUEST that those who can, simply get a PO box and add money to local post offices and lesson the load for the carrier/contractors. Then this happened: I just looked up the po box rates and $625 a year for a 'big' PO box is insane. You are SAVING THEM from having to deliver... You are PAYING THEM the shipping fees to get the packages in the first place and You are PAYING THEM THEIR SALARY! They aren't doing you a favor, it's their JOB to deliver the mail. The system is insane, no wonder they're broke all the time. At least the new postmaster general is seeing thru the nonsense, firing the fools and taking away lolligagging around in the morning time (making delivery times later) and then working later hours to get overtime in the late afternoons. that's a no brainer hustle they been doing for years! every civil servant does, police, too. they live off of overtime their salaries go to taxes and bills. Here are the rates: Extra Small: (3” x 5.5”) These little mailboxes can hold 10-15 letters or two rolled-up magazines. They cost $12- $75. Small: (5” x 5.5”) Small PO Boxes hold up to 15 letters and 5 rolled magazines. You’ll pay $16-$150 for a small PO Box. Medium: (5.5” x 11”) These mailboxes are perfect for large envelopes and magazines to be stacked flat. Expect to pay $25-$250 for a medium PO Box. Large: (11” x 11”) Twice as tall, the large PO Box is so roomy that you can fit two shoe boxes inside and still have space for 10-15 letters. The extra space will set you back $60-$400. Extra Large: (12” x 22.5”) The largest PO Box available holds multiple Flat Rate Boxes and parcels. Expect to pay anywhere from $106-$625 for these big PO Boxes. I am American but live outside the country. Our PO boxes are $20 a year... no matter the size of your package. I wish I had saved the message to the White House on their contact form because I laid out a solution in detail not realizing the USPS had an ignorant and greedy price scale for PO boxes! If you ask the White House for all the complaints relating to the USPS you'll see it. I posted it August 10th The best solution to the delivery problem is made impossible because of bureaucratic GREED. How very sad.

    Aug 10, 2020
  • anon

    Get on TV and request that people get PO boxes. Don't make it mandatory but people that can, should. Everyone can pitch in and help during this slowdown and having a PO box helps.

    Aug 10, 2020
  • anon

    For the life of me I just can't understand why a package from Long Island NY to Queens NY has to go to Jersey City Distribution Center first, the worst in the nation! And then take forever to come back to where? Brooklyn! And then from Brooklyn to Queens. I've never seen USPS this bad! Media Mail and Printed Bound Matter are taking a month to go from Kentucky to NYC. Something has to be done!!!!!!!!

    Aug 09, 2020
  • anon

    Ceasing Saturday delivery, as has been often suggested and discussed for many years, is still a viable option to consider. The hiring freeze allows the usual wages earned to be the same but 'increased' for those who will have reduced hours... as well as reducing fatigue and thereby providing more detailed attention. Because removing Saturday delivery will likely increase volume load in some situations, those who usually fill in can be re-scheduled. Thank you. (Please do not use my email. It is compromised.)

    Aug 08, 2020
  • anon

    I would like to understand why I receive the very expensive, full color, well illustrated PHILATELIC 45 page book. How much money would be saved if they stop this one thing. There is no telling who all this goes out to on a regular basis, and like me, they have no need for it so it goes out with the trash. If I want to purchase stamps, I go to the Post Office or the Website. This is such a waste of money.

    Aug 07, 2020
  • anon

    I like to hear about the good things the post office is doing and how long it's been in business and how much it does save people in the long run. So many people like to receive mail at their homes especially if they are alone or disabled it's one thing they look forward to doing is to get mail. It is also doing what ups and fed ex has to do as well. Deliver mail and packages. Yes it could find some cost saving ways like maybe owning their own planes for mail delivery or create better routes and more like if the government wants to use effective cars or jeeps for drivers.

    Aug 05, 2020
  • anon

    I like getting my mail in a timely fashion, but this man Trump put in charge has really slowed the mail service down , We might have to go back to the “Pony Express” if this Trump appointee cannot get his act together! So the new appointee was a big GOP Trump donor and he has no qualifications for the United States Postal Service, the logistics Job experience he was involved in previously Has not served him well in the mail service so now the big concern is how Trump and this new appointee will screw up mail in ballots when we vote in November 2020! Vomit Vomit Everywhere!

    Aug 05, 2020
  • anon

    100% TOTALLY NOT TRUE! The mail has BEEN SLOW FOR MONTHS! How can you even say that? Dude has only been in the job for what? 5 weeks?! lol! You're delusional. 4 to 6 weeks used to be the standard for the USPS and we've gone back to that. Is it anyone's 'fault' no, not really because the amount of mail has quadrupled but the number of carriers has not. It's simple math. 4 to 6 weeks isn't the gold standard but that's what it used to be when I bought off of Home Shopping Network and I didn't DIE because I had to wait! Grow up and stop making the mail politicial. The previous woman needed to be fired for giving Amazon priority over the US taxpayer's mail. SenegalStyle

    Aug 10, 2020
  • anon

    Review extras generated by big mailer needs (Plant loads)? Contracts should be set up based on seasonal/volume scheduling projected needs. Review utilization percentages. Round trips percentages under 50% should be reviewed and terminated. Negotiate indemnity costs but future contracts should have clauses to prevent costly indemnities Review contracts that have many offices on runs. Extras and bulk outs (Service) are counter productive. It is also a cause to late departures as well as late arrivals. Transportation Managers should always be reviewing efficiencies. Managers should be reviewing omitted service and the extra service to replace it. Transportation Managers should be a part of the operations when service is called. Lastly, the nonsense of who owns the work, HCR vs PVS , must stop. Under utilized PVS can fill gaps prior to extra service.

    Aug 04, 2020
  • anon

    Dear Sir/Madam. I have been a resident of Estes Park since 1997. I live on a rural route, I switched my box at usps, years ago, because we have had an ongoing problem with the post office in Estes Park. Even our police chief and town officials have complained. My complaint is! Since before Christmas, packages I was supposed to receive, went back to people who sent them through USPS. Which were to be then sent over to my mail box at the ups office here in town. Never did get them. One package took 4 months to eventually get to me. My stimulus ck took 2 months. This gives me concern. I was mad at the ups office blaming them for the slow mail. I was going to switch back to USPS rural route mail box., but I decided against, this when I found out that the problem was not with UPS but our postmaster with USPS. Recently it was brought to my attention. That the postmaster sees the usps as a business not a service. That mail has been stacked up in the back, and that the contractors go in to get the mail, but are told none to deliver. Yet the mail is there. Stacked up. Backed up! Then when they are given it, it is 2 to 3 days worth of mail. Which more than doubles their loads in one day. My concerns! 1. This puts undue stress on the, contractors, they work less hours now,and paid less. 2. My mail is coming in every 2 to 3 days now, even although. I'm at the UPS office,, my mail is brought over there by the contractors. Supposed to be every day! 3. There are families in Estes Park who have still not gotten, their stimulus cks. Or unemployment reliacards. My son has also waited 10 weeks for his, we finally had to call bank ask For it to be fed exd to us. They said it was sent back to them from USPS. 4. I have had to raise money to help feed 27 families, who never got their stimulus checks in the mail! Yet! 5. What about the people who are elderly, who depend on their social security checks. 5. What about the people living hand to mouth, waiting on these checks to come in, but yet they have been sent, told by the people who sent, that they were sent weeks ago. I know we are in the middle of covid. But it's been an on going problem! Why cant it be fixed. I believe, that the USPS is a service to the communities, a service to the American people, this office should continue to do so. It should not be run as a profit saving business! Cutting corners, affecting its employees , contractors, and community! What is the the Inspector General going to do about this! I believe the mail should go to the clients daily! Not be backed up no matter how little it is! That one letter, could be a matter of life or death for a person who is waiting on their social security, stimulus ck or anything else, for that matter! Are you willing to be responsible, for families not eating for 3 or 4 days? Children not eating? If our postmaster does not have a conscience! Then they should not be doing this job. They are not serving their community well, they are not serving the American people. They are being selfish and serving themselves! All for what? All! For what, I ask! To make them look good to their bosses , for saving a buck or two! How about, helping families out, saving lives! I've said my piece, now I hope you will do your part. I may yet, hopefully get my rural box back, if service improves drastically overnight! But i will not hold my breath on this one. Kindest regards. Rosemary McArthur.

    Aug 04, 2020
  • anon

    I was hoping that your study also included these private contractors bringing us many times this year 1 package on a second trip or most common a few packages. Let's face it most of these Managers are not trained to run anything. We are only 45 minutes away from a big plant but we have to wait too because of not enough docking space to go from point A(Plant) to point B(big office) then go to point C(level 20 office) then to D(office 18). Every time this happens they unload truck sort then reload truck what a waste of hours and trucks. If they were able to cut off the level 20 office imagine the saving from that.

    Aug 04, 2020
  • anon

    Investigate the management personnel that awards or monitors the highway contracts. It always starts at the top (Washington HQ) then trickles down to the local facilities. It’s always cheaper to use PVS drivers. Most facilities have gas tanks to fuel their own trucks so no voyager cards to distribute. No extra payouts for ez-pass tolls. PVS drivers are paid hourly and the facilities can cancel trips with no mail for them instead of paying the HCRs to run empty trailers, bobtail, or empty equipment just to get paid for doing a trip. Part time flexible drivers could be used over the road or as Yard Jockeys. Flexibility. Get rid of that whole “rescue trips” concept and utilize trailers to capacity saving trips and trailers for other necessary trips.

    Aug 03, 2020
  • anon

    Now that you have reduced overtime and other transportation costs, we have seen a real slowdown in mail and package delivery. It happened almost overnight since the Inspector General stepped in to stop paying overtime. I absolutely agree with change to make things more efficient, but this may not be working. We see a real slowdown in mail delivery. We count on our medications and our mail. Please do something to help this essential service perform as they used to.

    Aug 03, 2020
  • anon

    Here is one method to save money on your transporation network. Stop rejecting parcels for your customers who must use Post Office Boxes. The customer looses, the seller looses, and your transportation system is utilized twice. There is a high potential for theft. I am referring to SmartPost and SurePost. Many sellers cannot, or will not, ship merchandise to PO Boxes. When I specify delivery to my house, the parcels are inappropriately dropped at my local station. Local personnel throw my stuff back on the trucks as not deliverable. Permanent or renewable forwarding orders is a no-cost solution.

    Aug 03, 2020

Recent Comments

  • 2 days 4 min ago
    Four packages in one week have been lost. Tracking says “delivery attempted” but that is a complete lie. I have video proof. Did everything online, called, created a search (once you I created a...
  • 2 days 10 min ago
    Same thing here, this week 4 packages where marked Delivery attempted which is a lie and have video proof that the mailman didn’t even show up. Still waiting....

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