Background

Strong consumer demand for goods purchased over the Internet has driven growth in the package market despite otherwise declining mail volume. This growing package segment provides the U.S. Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue.

With this growth, city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCA) are now delivering more packages and fewer letters to more addresses each year. To accommodate these changes, the Postal Service must adapt to this changing mail mix while maintaining service and efficiency.

The Bay Valley District’s package volume increased from 86.8 million in calendar year (CY) 2015 to 101 million in CY 2016, an increase of 16.3 percent. This growth is a direct result of eCommerce, Sunday package delivery, and grocery delivery services. In some areas, package deliveries now regularly occur early in the morning and sometimes as late as 10 p.m.

The Postal Service’s goal is for 95 percent of city letter carriers to return from street operations before 5 p.m. and 100 percent by 6 p.m. Carriers returning to their units on time helps the Postal Service meet its operational goals. In CY 2016, Bay Valley District city carriers and CCAs delivered about 2.2 billion mail pieces and 40 million packages to nearly 2 million delivery points on 3,288 routes. City carriers and CCAs returning after 6 p.m. in the Bay Valley District increased by 81 percent in CY 2016. We selected the Bay Valley District for review because it has the fourth highest percentage of instances of carriers returning after 6 p.m. in the nation.

Our objective was to evaluate city carriers returning to the office after 6 p.m. in the Bay Valley District.

What the OIG Found

City carriers and CCAs in the Bay Valley District did not meet the goal of 100 percent returning to the office by 6 p.m. Our analysis found that in CY 2016, only 75 percent of the Bay Valley District’s city carriers and CCAs returned to the office by 6 p.m.

Our visits to 15 randomly selected delivery units disclosed that only 72 percent of city carriers and CCAs in these units returned by 6 p.m. with some on the street as late as 10 p.m.

These conditions occurred due to insufficient staffing, late or improper mail arrival, inaccurate route adjustments, and insufficient supervision.

City carriers and CCAs returning to delivery units after 6 p.m. increased the district’s overtime and penalty overtime workhour costs. The Bay Valley District’s use of additional workhours after 6:00 p.m. resulted in about $15.2 million in questioned costs annually. Improving staffing and adjusting routes and mail flow could eliminate excess workhours after 6:00 p.m., and help the district realize a cost avoidance averaging $30.9 million annually.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management:

  • Evaluate distribution clerk and city carrier assistant staffing levels;
  • Instruct delivery unit management to properly report and record all instances of late mail arrival and improper mail mix;
  • Direct the Mail Arrival Quality – Plant Arrival Quality committee to evaluate the impact and cost of late mail arrival and improper mail mix dispatched to delivery units; and
  • Develop and execute a plan to review current package volume data for city delivery units.

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Comments (17)

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  • anon

    We live in New York City and we are getting our mail later in the day all the time. A few times,recently, we got our mail at 8:00pm. Sometimes we don't get our mail at all, which happened again last week (Fri. 9/1/17). We got that mail last night (9/8/17) at 8:00pm, but at least we got it. The question is-where was it for a week? There was a bill in the mix. Last March two checks were lost. One was to the telephone co.. They charged us $25.00. We can't even call to complain without waiting on phone for an hour and 15 minutes! Your system is broken!

    Sep 08, 2017
  • anon

    Hopefully you folks in OIG actually read these comments. Across the United States the comments from carriers mirror each other. Carriers want to do their jobs. Carriers want to get back on time. Carriers need management to get its collective head out of (you pick the next word) and do its job. The feedback you get on audits like this are the real postal pulse. HR and OIG are the last resort for fixing USPS. Everybody who reads this comment section would like to see OIG answer some of the questions brought up in the comments. If you don't be forthright and respond, it is assumed you are part of the problem.

    Sep 06, 2017
  • anon

    Would love to see management make the deliveries for just 1 week. If they could handle 1 week. All management is, is a waste of money. Fire at least half and reopen the plants that were closed. Also get rid of a post master for every town and go back to 1 post master per district. Management wastes more money and does nothing. Bring the "workforce in at 6 am Nd get the job done."

    Sep 05, 2017
  • anon

    So, this: "Area officials stated they initiated a moratorium on hiring Postal Support Employees (PSE6) to staff Function 4 positions from February 16, 2017 through April 12, 2017. Also, the staffing models (Customer Service Variance, Customer Service Staffing Opportunity Model, Lean Matrix, etc.) showed the district was not earning the number of distribution clerk staff these units required based on the unit’s mail volume. Insufficient distribution clerk staffing delayed carriers from starting their street delivery and contributed to carriers returning after 6 p.m. because the mail was not distributed to carrier’s cases timely." And this: "District officials stated they were frequently unable to hire or retain CCAs. Specifically, district officials identified several challenges they faced in hiring and retaining CCAs, including long workhours, low pay and limited benefits. Also, other local employers in retail and food services can often offer more attractive pay and benefits. Postal Service pay for CCAs starts at $16.06 per hour, but with no benefits, while retail and food service businesses in the area offer $14.50 to $17.50 per hour with benefits for entry-level positions." I'd say that you could narrow the report to read that these "area" and "district officials" DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING. Our installation routinely has a single clerk throwing parcels when the carriers walk in the door. Why would you possibly think we would be back before 6pm? Or that someone could get a job working at In 'n' Out and not only get paid the same but with BENEFITS and a DAY OFF (if not two). Why would you possibly work for the USPS as a CCA? Area and District needs to get its act together.

    Sep 05, 2017
  • anon

    As a city letter carrier I understand that getting back to the office by 6PM is desirable but it's an unreasonable when morning starting times are 8:30 AM. Yet nowhere in the OIG recommendations did I see the suggestion of an earlier start time. Why is that?

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    "insufficient supervision". Bwahahaha, guess which one item district management will hook onto? Like a tie wearing, clipboard hugging, stopwatch hounding , megalomaniac, chastising employees is going to improve the mess management created.

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    I think maybe the OIG needs to look at Philly Metro district next

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    How about letting the carriers start at 7 or earlier. Also fix the problems at the plant so we can get our mail on time.

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    These results do not surprise me. The overwhelming parcels(Amazon), as discussed in the report is a big issue. I feel an even bigger issue that wasn't even mentioned in this report is the later start times that seemed to have recently been pushed across the board. I've spoken to carriers from a few different offices and confirmed that start times(for carriers) have been pushed from 7am-730am to 8am-830am. This puts more pressure on carriers to meet dispatch. This report pertains to city carriers, whose routes are adjusted to 8 hours. Rural routes can be evaluated to well over 9 hours, yet still have to adhear to this unreasonable start time. Some work schedules would have the carrier completing their route after dispatch(with 30 min lunch), which is totally unacceptable/unreasonable.

    Sep 04, 2017
  • anon

    In Houston we don't even come in until 9am. Our ET without OT is 5:30. We would love to come in earlier. When we came in at 8 our office couldn't get us out until about 10. Now that we come in at 9, the clerks who still come in at the same time can't get us out until 11. I just don't understand why upper management can't get us out.

    Sep 03, 2017
  • anon

    At our station cleck can't get parcel done because under staffed UBBM is a month behind yet management eliminated 3 clerk jobs. One of our rural carriers got mad and pushed a APC of parcels over management did nothing because he related to someone in district office.

    Sep 03, 2017
  • anon

    Expand services? How about delivering mail to my address? I can't do any business, because you don't deliver to my address. Even the OIG is broken, complaints made, no follow up. The post office does not do it's basic function in my zip. And returning late? Never doing any work! Sitting on their backside doing nothing 5:00am. Off by 4:00pm latest. 98576 no delivery

    Sep 01, 2017
  • anon

    Expand services? How about delivering mail to my address? I can't do any business, because you don't deliver to my address. Even the OIG is broken, complaints made, no follow up. The post office does not do it's basic function in my zip. And returning late? Never doing any work! Sitting on their backside doing nothing 5:00am. Off by 4:00pm latest. 98576 no delivery

    Sep 01, 2017
  • anon

    Page 8 says it all....You can't deliver mail if it doesn't come to you on time, in proper order and there are clerks to sort it to you. DUH? Every audit you do says the same thing. Yet OIG has never followed up on this endemic problem. Damning is(paraphrasing) district doesn't want to hear our problems so don't report them. And you wonder why there is such a low return rate on postal pulse? And you wonder why the ones returned have such low grades? City carriers, rural carriers....everybody's mistakes and poor management above them impacts their ability to do their jobs. USPS is the most trusted federal agency because these carriers get the job done in spite of every obstacle put in front of them. At least OIG should thank them for shouldering the load.

    Aug 31, 2017
  • anon

    My carrier has never delivered the mail ever. Maybe it's time to rethink the AA Jim crow hiring program. No mail delivery my zip. No work.

    Sep 01, 2017
  • anon

    6 pm will never happen and that is a fact. You have the wrong people in management, for example 204B's with 6 months of carrier experiences. Postmaster and District Managers who don't have the proper experience only there because of who they know and their time in with the postal service. Also because these routes were built for FSS, which turned out to be one of the post offices biggest mistakes. Management refuses to accept that fact, and puts unrealistic demands on the carriers. Should I go on?

    Aug 31, 2017
  • anon

    This isn't just a CC / CCA issue. I work as an RC and we are struggling with these times because our routes were evaluated at PRE AMAZON times and we are struggling to make times with DOUBLE the packages. This is extremely frustrating because we are trying so hard to make the times, but it doesn't always happen, then we get told we need to use our annual days at the end of the fiscal year because we are all over evaluations. #Ridiculous.

    Sep 03, 2017