BACKGROUND:

U.S. Postal Service street operations comprise every duty a letter carrier performs. This includes loading the delivery vehicle, collecting mail along the route, and returning to the delivery unit to unload the delivery vehicle. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, city letter carriers delivered mail on 143,436 routes and city delivery street operations workhours totaled 268 million of the overall 347 million office and street workhours (77 percent). In addition, in FY 2012, actual street workhours exceeded projected street workhours by over 1.6 million.

Our objective was to assess the efficiency of street operations in the Bay-Valley, Dakotas, Houston, Oklahoma, and Portland districts.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:

The Bay-Valley, Dakotas, Houston, Oklahoma, and Portland districts have opportunities for enhanced street delivery efficiency. We determined the districts could use about 7 fewer minutes of street time per day on each carrier route. This would allow for a reduction of 340,499 workhours. We found that management did not always reinforce policies and procedures for supervising city delivery street operations. In addition, street supervision was inconsistent at the delivery units, allowing for some inefficiency in operations and outdated, integrated operating plans. Officials indicated that they are somewhat limited in providing oversight while letter carriers are performing street delivery due to office workload priorities. Reducing 340,499 workhours and improving supervision would increase overall efficiency in these districts and provide a potential cost avoidance of about $14 million annually. This audit also identified assets at risk totaling $13,466 at four delivery units due to unsecured retail stamp inventory. Management immediately initiated corrective action on these security matters.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended the vice presidents, Southern, Pacific, and Western Area Operations, instruct managers in the Bay-Valley, Dakotas, Houston, Oklahoma, and Portland districts to reduce workhours by 340,499. We also recommended reinforcing policies and procedures for supervising city delivery street operations at these districts’ delivery units to eliminate inefficient practices. Further, we recommended requiring managers to establish, review, and update integrated operating plans to ensure that mail arrives timely and in route order for easy retrieval by letter carriers.