Zero Base sounds like the first acclimation stop on a climb up Mount Everest. It’s actually an important program to help the U.S. Postal Service control costs in its Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) program.
The PVS fleet transports mail primarily within a 50-mile radius: between processing facilities, inner-city delivery offices, and among local businesses and mailers. The Postal Service has about 8,800 PVS drivers, who are career employees, and more than over 26,000 PVS vehicles. Its PVS operation cost the Postal Service over $1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which includes salaries (including overtime), benefits, and fuel.
Managers of transportation departments at the processing and distribution centers (P&DC) must complete annual Zero Base reviews to optimize PVS operations. These reviews examine and recommend efficient staffing, scheduling, and vehicle usage. The P&DC management report PVS Zero Base review recommendations and estimated projected cost increases or savings to USPS management at headquarters.
Our recent audit report found the PVS Zero Base initiative did not achieve its projected savings of $98 million from FYs 2014 through FY 2017. Rather, it reported increased costs of $21 million due to an increase in labor and fuel expenses. Our review found opportunities to reduce PVS transportation costs.
Notably, we found that driver schedules contained unnecessary hours, especially around loading and unloading times at service points and excessive stand-by time. USPS could save about $51 million over the next year by removing excessive load and unloading hours and stand-by hours from existing PVS schedules.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions for other ways the Postal Service can reduce PVS costs?