Our objective was to determine the cause of delayed mail at the Lehigh Valley, PA, Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC).

The Postal Service considers mail to be delayed when it is not processed in time to meet the established delivery day.

In January 2019, the Postal Service launched the Mail Condition Visualization (MCV) application within Informed Visibility to provide near real-time visibility of a facility’s on-hand, advanced, and delayed volumes. MCV uses sorting machine scans of mailpiece barcodes and calculates delayed mail based on the number of mailpieces that did not receive the next expected processing operation scan on-time.

We selected the Lehigh Valley P&DC for audit because from January 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020, MCV reported about 605 million delayed mailpieces, or 32.2 percent of the total pieces handled at this facility. We reviewed operations with the most delayed mail — Delivery Point Sequence totaling about 476 million (or 78.7 percent) and Managed Mail Program (hereafter refer to as managed mail) incoming letters totaling 67.7 million (or 11.2 percent). Delivery Point Sequence is an automated process of sorting mail by carrier routes into delivery order and managed mail originating from other processing locations that requires additional processing at a destinating facility before delivery.

A portion of the audit scope and our site observations occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Postal Service experienced decreased employee availability and increased package volume during this time, which impacted operations nationwide.


We were unable to determine all of the causes for the delayed mail reported in MCV at the Lehigh Valley P&DC as detailed scan information such as the operation where the delay occurred only has the ability to be downloaded for one day. However, the delayed mail numbers as reported for this facility were inaccurate because mail flows were not followed and as a result, critical scans were missed. During our site observations on October 5-8, 2020, MCV reported 151,671 pieces of managed mail as delayed for the facility; however, we did not find any delayed mail remaining at the facility after processing clearance times. We were unable to account for the difference between the delays reported by MCV and our physical observations.

Lehigh Valley P&DC management was not processing the managed mail according to its designed flow, which caused MCV to improperly report that volume as delayed mail. In addition, while we were not able to determine how much of the managed mail was reported as delayed in MCV, we found some of this mail was arriving late from other facilities, putting it at risk of not being delivered on time. Further, while it did not directly contribute to delayed mail at the facility, the Lehigh Valley P&DC did not have an updated operating plan.

Lehigh Valley P&DC management was not following Postal Service Headquarters guidance for the designed flow of managed mail. Instead, the facility was processing this mail on a sort plan which resulted in it being sent to delivery units without all processing operations at the facility being completed. This resulted in the MCV application not accurately reporting delayed mail for processing operations including Delivery Point Sequence and incoming managed mail letters at the facility. When a mail piece does not receive an expected operational scan, MCV will report it as delayed. As a result, management was unable to accurately determine the actual amount of delayed mail at the Lehigh Valley P&DC.

Further, the Lehigh Valley P&DC received managed mail from other facilities after the critical entry time, which is the last time mail can be received and processed on-time to meet service standards. Plant management was aware of the late arriving mail and communicated with the respective facilities from which this mail originated but did not identify the root causes or take action to resolve the issue. This mail was at risk of not being delivered on-time, which can adversely affect Postal Service customers, harm the brand, send mailers to competitors, or cause the Postal Service to lose revenue.

Lastly, Lehigh Valley P&DC management has not updated their operating plan since September 26, 2016. Postal Service policy requires operating plans to be reviewed and approved yearly. An operating plan is the blueprint that details operations in a facility, such as volume, start times, and scheduled end times for all major operations, to ensure that the critical entry times and clearance times of each operation can be met. While an updated operating plan is critical for operations, we did not observe the outdated operating plan contributing to delayed mail at the Lehigh Valley P&DC.


We recommended management:

  • Distribute training to all mail processing managers and process late arriving Managed Mail Program mail in accordance with guidance, so it is accurately reported in the Mail Condition Visualization application.
  • Identify and address the root causes of the late arriving Managed Mail Program to the Lehigh Valley P&DC.
  • Update and submit the Lehigh Valley P&DCoperating plan to the Area for approval and communicate the revised, approved operating plan to facility personnel.

Read full report

Comments (26)

  • anon

    When will my package arrive? It's shows it left this center on 3/19/22 and only notes it will be arriving late.

    Mar 30, 2022
  • anon

    I put in a change of address request feb 26 for our business and as of today March 15th we have not received any of our forwarded mail. We are a small private doctors office and depend on our payments that come via us postal service and it’s been almost 3 weeks!!!! I was told 7-10 days at the most. No one seems to care. I have called a few times and went to 2 post offices for help and of course got none!!!! They don’t care and just say there must be a delay in Lehigh valley!!! It’s the WORST SYSTEM!!!!

    Mar 15, 2022
  • anon

    Terrible service once again with USPS Priority Mail package delivery. This has been an on-going problem for years. On March 9, I mailed my granddaughters birthday package with USPS generated label via 2-day Priority Mail to Nazareth, PA. On March 10, it was received at the Lehigh Valley Distribution Center. On March 10, they sent in on to San Jose, California!!!! Her Birthday was March 12...so she had no present from me. Why on EARTH would it have been sent on to San Jose, California??? Late arrival is scheduled for today, March 14. My shipping cost should be refunded - what terrible service.

    Mar 14, 2022
  • anon

    Keeping this comment thread alive in hopes that the more noise the better. I'm so disgusted with the Lehigh Valley USPS service and even down to my local PO, the employees and service are unacceptable. I found this audit page just trying to figure out if the Lehigh Valley happened to be an epicenter of terrible USPS practices and I was right. I wish I had the option to choose alternatives everytime I purchase from somewhere that uses USPS services. The managers all need to be canned.

    Jan 27, 2022
  • anon

    I don't understand how the managerial level in charge of the USPS Lehigh Valley Sorting Center keep their jobs. The kind of performance I regularly see out of this facility should get people removed from their jobs. The audit of the customer complaints and the audit findings highlight a textbook example of how the management of the US Postal System protect their jobs by getting an auditor that feels accountable to them and a 'softball' audit that makes everything look 'o.k' No accountability, no change. Hopefully, a US Senator will get involved and build some momentum at the Federal level to overhaul the entire Postal System bureaucracy and they should start with the Lehigh Valley PA.

    Jan 21, 2022
  • anon

    On December 15, 2021 I mailed my Louisville Gas and Electric payment. Unfortunately it goes to Lehigh PA. for processing which is ridiculous in the first place, and it was never received. For the 3rd time in one year, I've had to pay stop payment fee's and a late payment fees because of this lazy bunch of ......! Typical USPC investigation and not even a slap on the wrest to the management of this facility. Ridiculous! I'm pretty much finished using snail mail now unless I absolutely have to. They are putting them selves out of business. Way to go Lehigh PA!

    Dec 28, 2021
  • anon

    Priority mail package to me reached this Lehigh Valley Distribution Center on November 20, 2021 and stayed there. December 1 I opened a case and was reported to that the package was still there awaiting processing. It is now December 12, 2021. I still do not have the package which was sent 2-day priority. This distribution center is an amazing joke provided by USPS, and makes all hard working postal employees embarrassed to be associated with. There is no help for this problem available from them.

    Dec 12, 2021
  • anon

    Once again Lehigh has a slow down and or double scans HOURS apart I have tracking on 2 pieces of small packages and BOTH are delayed (One is Priority)

    Sep 14, 2021
  • anon

    My heart now goes to my throat when I see a package has been sent to the Lehigh Valley Distribution Center. Twice this past week mail at that center has either been shipped to the wrong location (I had to drive over 30 miles just last week on a work day to claim a package when I live just 10 miles from Allentown), and today a package due two days ago was reassigned "In Transit: Arriving Late" status. Can it really be possible that workers in Allentown do not know where Bethlehem is, relative to their own location?

    Sep 13, 2021
  • anon

    I hear you, brother. Lived in the Los Angeles area for 28 years. It's not a small town. Never had a delay in delivery of a package. Moved back to the Lehigh Valley in July and have quickly learned to treat the "Informed Delivery Service", at least with packages, as either a suggestion at best or an oxymoron at worst.

    Oct 26, 2021
  • anon

    This is honestly the most offensively verbose way of saying “we thought 600 million late pieces of mail might be worth looking into, and despite this facility not adhering to policy whatsoever, we don’t think it’s their fault, and maybe the mail isn’t actually even late”. Pathetic. There are over 130 google reviews of this facility within the last year from people receiving packages MONTHS late or never delivered at all. I am currently one of these people. This worthless, blame-shifting excuse of an investigation, after such abhorrent, ONGOING performance, is a complete and total disgrace.

    Jul 27, 2021
  • anon

    Package supposed to be here on july 12. Looks like someone scanned it at the Lehigh facility then no movement afterwards. If this is happening on the scale that this report indicates, then perhaps a criminal investigation should be the next step.

    Jul 16, 2021
  • anon

    Totally AGREE I mailed 3 day Priority out of Nevada and it has important Federal loan documents. It got scanned in Lehigh....but WAS NOT IN THE CONTAINER. Seriously someone is STEALING. Why is no one investigating? My package still not delivered and NO ONE knows where it is at. The POST OFFICE NEEDS A COMPLETE OVERHAUL IN MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES.

    Feb 10, 2022
  • anon

    I am waiting for a package shipped from Philadelphia (actually scanned in on June 30 2021 at Philadelphia regional center) that has not yet been received in Taylor PA. The package arrived at Lehigh Valley on June 30. It sat for several days. It then went to Wilmington Delaware and then back to where it started at Philadelphia regional center. Yesterday evening it arrived back at Lehigh Valley. Bets on whether it gets to Taylor? I reported this. I could have driven between Taylor, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Lehigh Valley multiple times every day. These places are not far apart. No wonder the USPS loses money. Not efficient st all.

    Jul 07, 2021
  • anon

    If I had known how inefficient and unprofessional the PO is in northeastern PA, I would never have set up a temporary forwarding from my home outside of Philadelphia to a temporary residential address in upper Wayne County. After six weeks, we still haven't received mail. I'm expecting pension checks, insurance reimbursement, the usual timely bills, etc. I would have held my mail at original po, instead of putting up with customer service that borders on harassment. I've supplied all the necessary documentation to prove the temporary address if a valid mailing address with a clearly marked mailbox, but still no satisfactory response.

    Jun 30, 2021
  • anon

    Was supposed to have a package Friday but it didn’t arrive and now they completely take away the arrival date on my tracking as soon as it hits the Lehigh Valley Distribution Center. This is the 4th time I’ve had issues with packages being significantly late from this facility even before COVID and after society opens up. They’re absolutely embarrassingly horrible

    Jun 26, 2021
  • anon

    I’m waiting for a package, it gets to the Lehigh Valley USPS distribution center, then they sent it clear across the country to California !!!! Another package I’ve been waiting to be delivered for 2 months now, that was at the Lehigh Valley distribution center a few times and instead of delivering it to me they sent it around the county side also !!!! Some people need to be fired from their job !!!!!

    Jun 25, 2021
  • anon

    The slow processing and distributing of mail and packages at the Lehigh Valley facility (LVF) has not improved. My package was sent from Hanover, PA on June 5, 2021, arrived at the LVF on June 6, and as of today, June 24 is listed as in transit to next facility. The website was last updated June 10. The end destination is Dallas, PA - about 60 miles from the LVF. I filed a request with the Dallas, PA office to see if they can locate the package (about a 5 inch X 8 inch bubble envelope, weighing about 2 pounds), but no information as of yet. Another audit needs to be done with stronger corrective actions - and they need to be implemented immediately. The USPS was knowing as the premier delivery service that others wanted to be like, but lately that is not the case. I am trying to be patient but if the package is lost or stolen I only have a certain window of time to file my request for a refund. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.

    Jun 24, 2021
  • anon

    What exactly is the point of these inspections if the USPS isn’t going to implement any of the suggested fixes?

    Jun 13, 2021
  • anon

    I have been getting my medications from Caremark for years and it almost all went through Leigh High Valley one day and was out on its way to Anchorage either the same day or next. Now it seems to be going to 3 different facilities in PA and taking a week longer to receive. This started last summer of 2020. I can show you the tracking of at least a couple of years. I believe this was done so that mail or ballots could be easily lost or untraceable for PA voters. I live in AK but as a voter, I would simply like to get an emailed receipt of my ballot as it was counted in the machine and not just that it I know it made it to the facility. I know mine made it to Juneau but do not know it went to the voting machine. That is where we would find fraud (if any) and it would have come through the USPS logistics ran by De’joys hires to oversee each of our major sorting facilities. Unfortunately, far too many bad faith Republicans that have shown they have no regard for having honest election integrity.This will end our democracy and we should all be on red alert.

    Jun 08, 2021
  • anon

    I sent a change of address on 13 May 2021 through the USPS website and received a confirmation number, but as of 2 Jun 2021, I still have not received any forwarded USPS mail at my new address.

    Jun 02, 2021
  • anon

    Hello Susanna. Thank you for your message. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Jun 02, 2021
  • anon

    This crap is still going on! My friends package has been "checked in" to this specific facility for nearly two months!!! I sent her a 2 day shipping flat rate box and she still hasn't gotten it!

    May 10, 2021
  • anon

    this is just like your other report...plants did not do full processing and send tons of mail to post offices to sort manually...Screwed the carriers to a wall but the stuff met critical get out the door scans... This is where the new PMG's program of out the door on time no matter what actually makes things worse... The expense and time of carriers hand sorting also meant that carriers could not return on time and just delayed more mail... AND the situation gets worse... would like to see you check on this...

    Apr 15, 2021
  • anon

    There can't be any continuity in these plants because they are constantly changing plant managers. The whole management model at the post office needs to be changed. Also alot of these trucking companies aren't held accountable for delayed mail. The pandemic definitely did create alot of delays. The sheer volume of packages nearly crippled the PO. The consolidations of 2012 were a big mistake and now the PO is seeing it. Bring back those facilities and stop the madness.

    Apr 25, 2021
  • anon

    consolidations were a mistake and they want to do more...OIG has even reported that the vaunted consolidation savings never appeared...

    May 04, 2021