Our objective was to determine if U.S. Postal Service mail processing facilities are optimally staffed based on its use of the Function 1 (F1) Scheduler.

The F1 Scheduler is a modeling tool the Postal Service uses at 265 mail processing facilities nationwide to create job assignments for mail processing operations by employee labor code. The tool takes into account mail volume, the number and type of mail processing machines, transportation schedules, and productivity.

What the OIG Found

We determined that mail processing facilities are not optimally staffed based on use of the F1 Scheduler.

At the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2018, the actual nationwide mail processing complement was 4,879 employees, or over 6 percent higher than what the F1 Scheduler determined to be optimal staffing. Our review of staff levels at the 265 mail processing facilities that use the F1 Scheduler found:

  • Nine matched their scheduler results.
  • Eighty-seven were within plus or minus 5 percent of the scheduler results.
  • One hundred and nine were at least 5 percent over the F1 Scheduler results and 17 were at least 20 percent over the scheduler results.
  • Sixty were at least 5 percent below the scheduler results, with five being more than 20 percent below the scheduler results.

The Postal Service does not have a requirement that facilities match actual staff levels to F1 Scheduler results or a target percentage of the results. The Manager, Processing Operations, said the goal of the F1 Scheduler is to assist management in assigning the right people, at the right time, with the right work.

We conducted seven site visits in September and October 2017 at the Industry, CA; North Texas, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and St. Louis, MO, Processing and Distribution Centers; and the New Jersey, NJ, and Washington, MD, Network Distribution Centers. We found that area and local management used their own targets for staffing based on F1 Scheduler results for each of the seven facilities and were in the process of reassigning employees’ schedules to align with those targets.

When the Postal Service does not optimally staff its mail processing facilities nationwide based on the F1 Scheduler, there is an increased risk of incurring additional overtime and lower productivity. In FY 2017, facilities with complements greater than the F1 Scheduler results had 15.7 percent lower productivity, while facilities with complements under F1 Scheduler results incurred about 18 percent more overtime.

The Postal Service does not use the results of the F1 Scheduler when determining a facility’s mail processing workhour budget. Instead, headquarters allocates workhours to Postal Service areas based on the workhours used in the previous fiscal year and makes adjustments for operational improvements, changes in mail volume, and Ready Now Future Ready initiatives (strategic initiatives and management processes used to improve performance). Headquarters’ mail processing budgeted workhours are allocated to each area which, in turn, allocates them to individual mail processing facilities.  

When the F1 Scheduler and budget process are not combined, budgeted workhours will not align with facility staff levels and the Postal Service will not realize savings from staff realignment. We found that the budgeted workhours for FY 2018 exceeded F1 Scheduler results by more than 10.2 million workhours, or about 6 percent, which resulted in about $420 million in labor costs.

While we concluded that the F1 Scheduler is useful in staffing mail processing operations, the Postal Service has not completed a Verification, Validation, and Accreditation (VV&A) process for the F1 Scheduler to determine if it is functioning as intended. Since management was not aware of the VV&A process, we provided them specific steps to use to complete the verification. The VV&A verification process is a business practice used in government and private industry when implementing modeling tools. The VV&A is a documented process used to ensure the tool:

  • Is executed (verification)
  • Operates as intended (validation) and
  • Is acknowledged by a process owner as appropriate for its intended purpose (accreditation)

Ensuring the F1 Scheduler functions as intended would help Postal Service management validate that processing facilities have adequate staff to meet operational and budget requirements.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management:

  • Establish nationwide criteria for using Function 1 Scheduler results.
  • Include Function 1 Scheduler results in headquarters’ annual budget process.
  • Implement and document the Verification, Validation, and Accreditation process for the Function 1 Scheduler.

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Comments (3)

  • anon

    I have had two packages sent out simultaneously by the same person to two different locations; one processed by San Francisco custom took five days to be delivered, my package should have arrived at New York JFK airport two weeks ago and i didn’t even get an arrival update, all my NY co-workers have same experience recently with USPS NY-JFK customs. All their packages have sat a minute of two weeks period with customs without any action. This is fraud, workers are either not doing their job or aging and not being competitive.

    Apr 09, 2018
  • anon

    I have been trying to file a complaint against my postal distr center.every week I have magazine del problems with tv guide one week,us magazine every week if I do receive very late,people magazine and I'm still waiting on a sports illustr from 2 weeks ago.what is going on.please help.my zip code is 60706 yt? Post office claims they del what they get.they acknowledge the problem either someone is taking magazine's or there is a dusty problem at facility as can't be problem with all these magazines

    Apr 07, 2018
  • anon

    our facility is doing a 6 day work week for 2 months now..as i have noticed, the mail volume is subsiding and there's no need for workers to render additional day of overtime per week..in my opinion, right staffing for the daily task is enough to fully optimized the production in a timely manner..but seniority bidding is a huge factor affecting this process,,management can't do nothing if wrong people gets the job bid.union protects the bidding process. this cycle is been observed and still going on..how can you be competitive to a fast paced working invironment if your workers are ageing?

    Apr 02, 2018