Background

The U.S. Postal Service considers mail to be delayed when it is not processed in time to meet the established delivery day. Mail processing facilities are required to complete daily counts and self-report on-hand mail, delayed mail, late arriving mail, and mail processed after the processing cut-off time. Mail processing personnel are to complete daily mail counts by 7 a.m.

Mail processing facilities use the Mail Condition Reporting System (MCRS) to report their daily mail count, providing the Postal Service with a standardized national view of mail conditions at processing facilities. MCRS information is available to management officials at all levels for analysis, forecasting, and planning.

We judgmentally selected eight Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DC) for review based on changes in their delayed mail reported from fiscal year (FY) 2014 to FY 2016. We conducted our observations at the Brooklyn, NY; Dallas, TX; Greenville, SC; Louisville, KY; Mobile, AL; Omaha, NE; Southern Maryland; and South Suburban, IL, P&DCs in February 2017.

Our objective was to determine the accuracy of the Postal Service’s delayed mail reporting.

What the OIG Found

We found that the Postal Service was not accurately reporting delayed mail.

We determined that five of the eight P&DCs we visited did not accurately count on-hand delayed mail. Specifically, we determined that there were more than 572,000 on-hand delayed mailpieces during our two days of observations; however, the P&DCs only reported about 369,000 on-hand delayed mailpieces (or about 64 percent) in their MCRS reports for that time period. This occurred because employees were not properly supervised and trained in counting and reporting delayed mail.

In addition, P&DC management did not have procedures in place to periodically reconcile MCRS entries to actual on-hand mail volume to ensure accuracy. According to Headquarters Network Operations management, there was no formal training for conducting daily mail counts and reporting delayed mail.

Additionally, the eight P&DCs did not include all late arriving mail in their MCRS reports. According to the Postal Service’s Mail History Tracking System (MHTS), the eight P&DCs had about 1.8 million late arriving mailpieces during the week of our observations; however, the facilities only included 121,000 of them (or less than 7 percent) in their MCRS reports. We projected that nationally from March 1, 2016, through February 28, 2017, mail processing facilities underreported late arriving mail by about 2 billion mailpieces.

Further, the eight P&DCs did not report all mail processed after the established cut-off time for completing mail processing in their MCRS reports. Based on data in the Postal Service’s Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), the P&DCs processed about 7.5 million mailpieces after their cut-off time during the week of our observations; however, they only included about 868,000 mailpieces (or less than 12 percent) in their MCRS reports. This mail is not necessarily delayed; however, it should be included in the MCRS report as a processing plan failure.

Mail processing facilities are not required to report information from MHTS or EDW in their MCRS reports; however, using this information would provide P&DC management with a more accurate view of current mail conditions.

When mail condition reports are not accurate, management uses incorrect information to make decisions on staffing, mail processing equipment use, preventative maintenance, and the transportation of mail. These decisions affect the Postal Service’s ability to meet its mail service commitments.

Headquarters Enterprise Analytics management said they are planning to replace the MCRS with the Informed Visibility system to capture daily mail conditions. An initial pilot has been conducted and as of August 2017, the next pilot is on hold while the Postal Service simplifies mail condition calculations. We plan to look at the Informed Visibility system’s delayed mail reporting in future audit work.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management require formal training for all personnel involved in supervising, conducting, and reporting daily mail counts; ensure P&DC management periodically reviews the accuracy of MCRS reports; and improve the MCRS by integrating data from the Mail History Tracking System and Enterprise Data Warehouse.

Read full report

Comments (85)

We welcome your comments related to the topic on this page. Complaints about the Postal Service, including lost, stolen or mishandled mail, that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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  • anon

    This PO system needs an overhaul! My flat rate priority envelope went to 4 different zip codes, it’s been 10 days so far and the delivery address is only 42 miles away! They need to stop selling this flat rate crap because the estimated arrival was one day and now it’s lost. The workers guess at the city names or it falls on the floor! Angry pissed off etc!

    Jun 14, 2018
  • anon

    Priority mail does not seem to be Priority any longer. You have a real problem with the postal service. I don't know if the other carriers are bad, but when I ship a small package from Seattle to Florida in June with no real weather issues, and it takes a week to arrive, that's a problem.

    Jun 12, 2018
  • anon

    I sent out several bills on May 23rd that have still not been delivered as of June 11th. All of those bills would have been paid on time if the Washington postal system had their act together, but now they are ALL past due and I have late fees to pay.

    Jun 12, 2018
  • anon

    I have been waiting on a letter. That was mailed out May 29 2018. Today is May 9 2018 and I still have not recieved it.

    Jun 09, 2018
  • anon

    My mail is NOT being forwarded!!!!!! I did pay the ridiculous $1.00 yet still nothing!!!!!!

    Jun 04, 2018
  • anon

    I am very frustrated as to why a package I have sent on the 16th of April has been sitting in the Detroit sorting facility since the 21st of April. All is says is that it is in transit. Is it sitting in Detroit, and if it's going to its next destination, where is it going to? This is a nice, neat large box, well taped. I don't know where it is, but I want to find it. This is the third package that myself and my family has sent through the United States Postal Service that has not made it's destination. That's not acceptable. Thanks for listening and I hope you will further investigate.

    May 29, 2018
  • anon

    I shipped a priority letter on May 17th and it has been showing in transit to the next facility since the 20th. Today is May 27th. I put a missing mail inquiry in and still nothing. This is unacceptable.

    May 28, 2018
  • anon

    I’m am so upset, i ordered something online 4 Weeks ago expecting it to be here 5 days after ordering. I needed it for that weekend and when i tracked my package it said it was out for delivery in my city, later that night it never came and said it was delayed.... it’s been 4 weeks and still no update and no package. I paid a lot of money for my package and I’m very disappointed it’s still not here. What’s going on????

    May 27, 2018
  • anon

    I have been waiting for my package from USPS FORT MYERS since the 18May and I'm in Naples 40min away from Fort Myers. It took a week to arrive in Fort Myers from China AFTER a week of being delayed, now I have been waiting for more than a week for my package to arrive "USPS FORT MYERS" has the worst service ever. I have a week left in Naples I'm moving to Boston. It has been 4 weeks - 3days since I have been waiting for package.

    May 26, 2018
  • anon

    Past three days i have recieved 15 arrive and depart messages from the same facility in mobile alabama distribution center sometimes 30 minutes apart i should have got my package 3 days ago this is crazy

    May 25, 2018
  • anon

    Lately it as been very PAINFULLY slow with USPS. I ordered many items lately and USPS has CONSISTENTLY delayed my package shipment. I buy a lot from eBay and it's been nothing but WAITING and screwing up my schedules. I usually get shipped withing 3 days before, now tracking says it JUST LEFT the original station AFTER 5 days!!! It's been sitting at the source doing nothing. I tried to call (1-800-275-8777) to COMPLAIN. Phone tree put you on hold for eternity so you cannot get a hold of a human. They better get their act together or another might go postal.

    May 25, 2018
  • anon

    I sent my letter/envelope from Quincy Massachusetts May 11, 2018 by Priority Mail, to Manhattan, today is the 20th and no updates since May 11th when at 9:39am it was out for delivery and never delivered and at 11:39 pm that night it was changed to delayed and with no further updates r comments since. I went to my Quincy Post Office who sent an email to 10038 who said they got an email the following day to say they ha no idea where the mail is held up, I tried to call the 10038 Post Office for two days myself getting No answer over there and finally after several hours of calling customer service talked to someone who ha no explanation other then go online and file research! Research filed Wednesday still no response and still no delivery, what the heck?

    May 19, 2018
  • anon

    My CPA sent a copy of tax return with important documents Mar 14, 2018 and I still haven't received it. How do I find out where it went. It was sent from Houston, Tx to Dallas, Tx.

    May 15, 2018
  • anon

    I purchased postage from an USPS kiosk which promised my mother's day large envelope would be delivered in two days. Didn't happen in 5 days so far (still no delivery). I sent mother's day and birthday cards 4 days in advance for the same city deliveries to other folks. Didn't happen. What the heck???? I used to be able to send a card to the same city and it would show up no later than 2 days later. I absolutely can't stand the USPS any longer. In the past, I have had either "NO" deliveries, especially if the cards I have sent feel like they have photographs or gift cards in them. I have gotten the idea that ANYTHING that indicates that a gift may be included in the card (like colored envelopes or anything like a "Hallmark" emblem on the envelope gets stolen by the USPS employees. Will not use USPS any longer for anything including greeting cards. I'm really iffy about even sending checks to utilities companies or other recipients with concerns that one of my utilities may be shut off if the check isn't received by them! The only tiny hope in sending these is that these utility companies would sue the USPS highly if their mail is tampered with. NOT SATISFIED WITH A COMPANY WHO REGARDS ITSELF HIGHLY AND WHOM TAUTS IT'S INTEGRITY AND SERVICE AS BEING THE BEST. NO WONDER THERE ARE SO MANY COMPLAINTS. WE USED TO BE ABLE TO COUNT ON THE USPS!!! NOT BE WORRIED IF THE RECIPIENT WOULD RECEIVE OUR MAIL!

    May 13, 2018
  • anon

    I shipped my cousins birthday gift priority express on Friday from Los Angeles. The expected delivery date was Saturday by 3pm, and of course it was a no show. Now it just says it departed that facility and is in transit to the destination yesterday on the 14th. I haven’t gotten a update since. I don’t ship often but I did that one to make sure he would get it on Saturday. Is anyone experiencing this issue or something similar ?

    Apr 15, 2018
  • anon

    This is why you shouldn't use USPS, for whatever reason it wasn't delivered and then left my city: April 11, 2018 In Transit to Next Facility The package is delayed and will not be delivered by the expected delivery date. An updated delivery date will be provided when available. The item is currently in transit to the next facility as of April 11, 2018. April 10, 2018 In Transit to Next Facility April 9, 2018, 11:37 pm Departed USPS Regional Facility SANTA CLARITA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER April 9, 2018 In Transit to Next Facility April 7, 2018, 8:14 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility SANTA CLARITA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER April 5, 2018, 8:45 am Out for Delivery SIMI VALLEY, CA 93065 April 5, 2018, 8:35 am Sorting Complete SIMI VALLEY, CA 93065 April 5, 2018, 5:10 am Arrived at Unit SIMI VALLEY, CA 93065 April 5, 2018, 2:16 am Departed USPS Regional Facility SANTA BARBARA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER April 4, 2018, 11:06 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility SANTA BARBARA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER April 4, 2018, 6:18 pm Departed Post Office VENTURA, CA 93004

    Apr 12, 2018
  • anon

    My package is in transit from April 2. It was supposed to reach Sacramento on March 31st. Its a priority mail. I have contacted customer care service, consumer affair. But no update from them. Whom should I contact for this?

    Apr 10, 2018
  • anon

    I have the exact problem. Posted my CA tax return on 28th March from Berkeley and as of 2nd April, the status is “delayed, in-transit”. The package had reached the destination city Sacramento on 29th March but delivery within the city has already taken 2 weeks. My post is either lost, which is BIG issue because the contents are sensitive or, hopefully, it was delivered but the postal employee did not registered it as delivered.

    Apr 15, 2018
  • anon

    My mail has been delayed since April 2nd what is going on over there?it keeps saying in transit to next facility (Los Angeles distribution center) I have been getting that same update every day since April 2nd

    Apr 10, 2018
  • anon

    Why my package was delayed since march 5

    Apr 08, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a PRIORITY 3-Day package. It was pre-paid and was mailed on March 27th from Carlisle, PA to Bethlehem, PA (which is about an HOUR away). Since Arpil 1st the tracking has said In-Transit and my mail is "delayed" with no explanation. This is very troubling because it is a merchandise return and I cannot be responsible for paying for these items because the USPS can't deliever something an hour away in 11 DAYS!!! How the heck does it take MORE than 11 DAYS to deliver something that is an hour away from where it was sent out from? every day I check teh tracking and it adds a day saying In-Transit and its delayed. Since April 3rd there has been NO UPDATE at all.

    Apr 07, 2018
  • anon

    Over the past year USPS has seemed to have taken a complete nose dive, or they just don't give a crap about what their jobs are. In the past two months I've had 11 items shipped via USPS, 8 of them were more than two days late. That's a failure rate of 73%. No other business would survive with that kind of service. Though, they're a government business, so why would they care. Oh, and if you call for support, it'll tell you 'it'll be a 4 to 5 minute wait... 2 hours later... An agent answers as if they're doing you a favor and you're wasting their time.

    Apr 02, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks USPS! Not! Your lovely, lacking system has me off of my medication as I type this because you failed to tell me it would be late until, oh I don't know, this morning?! Furthermore, I tried to call and see what was going on yesterday and your options almost dissuade you from speaking with someone, then when you finally get to the right menu to talk to someone, the wait time is between 30-45 minutes?! For medication!!!! This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I could become seriously ill thanks to your incompetence. Thanks so much!

    Mar 30, 2018
  • anon

    I have 'had it' with the USPS in certain areas! I am waiting 2 weeks for a package Sent from Illinois, I live in PA. Never waited this long! USPS tracking info states it's been Delayed for 8 days with no location info! I read in this article a USPS location in South Suburban Illinois has issues with delayed mail, it's probably stuck there! I have received packages from California in 3 days! From Canada in 1 - 2 weeks. From Italy in 2 weeks. This one from Illinois still not found, NO information, just "Delayed" at Undisclosed location! I have had some late mail in past maybe twice..but never this long. I asked the Seller to see what they can find out. Waiting for answer. Alot of people are complaining about the USPS.. it takes 6 days to receive a letter mailed from here 20 miles away. 3 days to receive a letter from 10 miles away! I'm concerned about my elderly parents medication they now get delivered by mail! Something More Has Got to be done!

    Mar 29, 2018
  • anon

    In 2018 I have shipped over 40 first class packages and not a one has arrived by that delivery date.. What is it for if every time there is going to be an exception.. Post Office is scamming people.. You want to make all these weight rules and drive prices sky high .. Anything that weighs one pound cost $7 and up to ship our you crazy... They increase prices but give worse service.. We pay more and they become less efficient soon they will raise the prices again and the first class mail will get even worse.. In state first class no more next day delivery but you raise the price past $5 scam and every first class package has delivery exception. More money better service get on the job please

    Mar 28, 2018
  • anon

    Please do something. Lately packages sent to me (I live in Georgia) are being received by one of the USPS Regional Centers in the state but, rather than send it on to my local Post Office for delivery they ship it out to one of the Regional Centers in Florida where it sits for a day or two before being returned to the Regional Center in Georgia. Sometimes the center in Georgia ships it back a second or even a third time before "realizing" they are the center who should be handling it.

    Feb 27, 2018
  • anon

    oh man -- same!

    May 12, 2018
  • anon

    I receive my medication via mail. I have to take it daily for my health. My medication was shipped on 02/13/18 as priority mail and was expecting it to be here at least on the weekend. There was no warning that my medication was delayed. I ran out of my last pill on Saturday, and I missed FOUR days of my medication. I got the package on 02/21/2018. I attempted to get at least a month's worth of medication but the insurance wouldn't cover it at the pharmacy since the medication was on it's way and couldn't afford to pay $$$. Very disappointed. I feel like I can't trust USPS to ship my medication on time anymore.

    Feb 21, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service on their website. Just choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Feb 22, 2018
  • anon

    I mailed a certified letter on February 5, 2018, to El Paso, TX. Arrived in El Paso at 7:32 am on February 9 (sorting complete) Have never received online acknowledgement of delivery pas

    Feb 20, 2018
  • anon

    What if the postal clerks aren't delibritly withholding a person's mail because that's person finally filed a complaint about the mishandling of their mail. Even went as far as not putting thru said person's address change cards and actually filled out different ones and totally messed up the person receiving their mail?

    Feb 14, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service under the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Feb 15, 2018
  • anon

    On Feb 7th, 2018, a Certified letter addressed to myself arrived at the regional center in Colorado Springs, CO. I live in Colorado Springs, CO. Since then, the tracking information says it's "In transit". Seriously? How long does it take to bring a letter across town? I can mail a letter to anyone in Colorado Springs and it will arrive to them in 1-2 days. As of Feb 14th, there are no new updates, and it has not arrived. The only thing anyone can tell me is that it is "In transit". Who had it last? Who was the last person to input information about this letter? Someone has to know but the attitude of USPS customer service is "We get so much mail, it might be impossible to locate your letter." We used Certified mail because the contents of the envelope are important. I can't believe USPS knows squat about where my letter could possibly be. How do I find it? How do I get more information when nobody will return a call or do anything they promised to do?

    Feb 14, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service under the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Feb 15, 2018
  • anon

    Why does the detroit / Allen park Michigan distribution NOT process mail ? How many trucks full of mail do they have sitting in the yard ? How many carts of mail have they pushed off to the side ? There has been a major change here since the beginning of the year - where I'm a weekly basis my priority packages are taking up to 21 days this far to receive .

    Feb 14, 2018
  • anon

    I agree! I mailed a Priority package w/food and it took 7 days from MI to CA. It sat w/"in transit" for days/no updates from leaving the Detroit Distribution Center.---finally showed up in LA days later---by the way the LA postal service was fab in calling me to tell me as soon as it arrived and the delivered the same day. could not get the $20 back because it says NOT A GUARANTEED delivery date. Why pay $20 when you cannot deliver? Service once it reaches the distribution center is bad......someone needs to look into the situation.

    Mar 13, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. You can file a complaint with the Postal Service online. Just choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Feb 14, 2018
  • anon

    I currently work for a business that sends our website packages via USPS. I have now had to open 2 missing mail searches and had several others with the same message saying there is a delay in delivery (with no reason whatsoever). If the package actually ends up getting delivered, it would be received over 2 weeks from when it was first shipped. When I try to call USPS, I have been getting 2 hour wait times. It is unfortunate in how big of an issue this is becoming. We have lost a lot of money and time refunding customers and responding to angry emails and phone calls blaming us for the issue. Something really needs to be done.

    Feb 12, 2018
  • anon

    The problems don't seem to be at the local level. It is the inefficiency of the distribution centers. The people at these places or the people in the power is artificially making everything slow. At one time everything moved much quicker and when the usps was not allowed to raise prices more, they slowed everything down. Ultimately the usps is going to put itself out of business as more and more people will go to other services because of the lack of sorry to say intelligence and realizing they are upsetting the paying public who will use other means of sending packages, etc.

    Feb 10, 2018
  • anon

    Is there anyway of knowing why my package is delayed? I am very worried.

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    My package has been in transit for 2 weeks. But what frustrates me the most is the attitude toward the customer. I got responses like: Yeah, I don't know, we've had a lot of lost or delayed mail. No resolution or effort to correct this problem. How do you keep selling a service you can't guarantee? Tried to call got a message that the wait time is 1 hour and 1/2. Sure, I'll just wait for nothing.

    Feb 08, 2018
  • anon

    Have reported mail fraud and now theft as I had a "delayed" package delivered with NO CONTENTS. Package had been opened and re-taped closed with nothing inside. I've been reporting issues 6 YEARS, yes, YEARS with no resolution. Finally contacted my Congressman. Writing to DC Consumer Advocate today. I advise all reading this to do the same if you have had mail never recovered.

    Jan 31, 2018
  • anon

    I actually am planning to escalate my case. I suspect that someone either with customs or the USPS has stolen my wedding ring out of the mail. Thank you for posting your message.

    Feb 06, 2018
  • anon

    Post office need to do a better job of keeping track of people mail,where the mail is at all time,this in transit to destination isnt getting it,im having problems with my package and i call the post office just telling me its on its way,yeah i know that but where is my package, what state is it in or whats going on with the package need to updated in tracking info,in transit to destination is telling me anything 4 days

    Jan 29, 2018
  • anon

    My package shipped out of KY Jan 4 (priority mail) originally scheduled to arrive on Jan 8 in Houston, TX. Got stuck in KY from Jan 7 to Jan21, then appeared in N Houston distribution center, only to get stuck again for an entire week now ! I should have received this mail 3 weeks ago! I called KY dist. Only to hear after 3 BD that they are monitoring the status and they will let me know. On the 22 of Jan, I jumped of joy thinking that I'm hours away from getting my item.... I called Houston distribution center as well, left a message, and still waiting....when will this be over with? I'm exhausted... please help!

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    my package says its delayed but no one will answer the phone so I can ask why and if I can come pick it up instead. Very had to get a hold of anyone.

    Jan 11, 2018
  • anon

    The company paying me is a worker's compensation insurance company. Their policy doesn't allow direct deposit so my check comes in the mail. Every Wednesday I check their website to make sure my check has been issued. They are right on time. However, sometimes my check is delivered by USPS on Friday, Saturday, Monday, etc. Sometimes it's 10 days before I get it. Over the past 2 years, three of my checks disappeared into thin air and had to be reissued. I'm sure you wouldn't like it if you couldn't depend on your paycheck to be there consistently. Clearly, the postal service's service is getting slower and less dependable as I have heard similar stories from people across the country. What is being done to address the problem and improve the service?

    Jan 09, 2018
  • anon

    Rahway NJ building has not gotten mail in two days. When I called the Rahway Post Office I was first told it's dark out..explained this was a building and the mail person comes indoors..the supervisor said he would check into it and get back to me but never did..not only no mail delivered but no pick up mail from our P.O. box. This is a 55 and over bldg and some people wait for their medication thru the mail. The mail in our P.O. box could be bills needed to pay. Please check into this. I also understand the hours of operation are from 10 am to 3 pm..way to short to really help the public.

    Jan 06, 2018
  • anon

    USPS should be abolished all together with their lazy employees, this is the worst institution in the US

    Jan 03, 2018
  • anon

    I am waiting on a media mail that was shipped out on Nov 13, 2017. They are saying it can take up to 6-8 weeks!

    Jan 03, 2018

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