Background

The U.S. Postal Service considers mail to be delayed when it is not processed in time to meet its established delivery day. Delayed mail can adversely affect Postal Service customers and harm the organization’s brand.

We used our Performance and Results Information System model to identify the Queens, NY, Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) as having over 25 percent more delayed mail than the national delayed mail percentage of about 0.5 percent.

The Queens P&DC processes small and irregularly shaped packages from the New York Morgan P&DC, local Priority Mail, and inbound international packages (IIP) received from the John F. Kennedy International Service Center (JFK ISC) for delivery throughout the country. The Queens P&DC processed about 78 million mailpieces and reported almost 22 million of those (or 28 percent) as delayed in quarters (Qs) 1 and 2 of fiscal year (FY) 2016. This was the highest delayed mail percentage in the nation during this period. Of the almost 22 million delayed mailpieces, about 17.8 million were IIP.

Our objective was to determine the cause of delayed mail at the Queens P&DC.

What the OIG Found

Mail was delayed because the Queens P&DC did not have enough machine capacity for the volume of packages it needed to process. On average, the facility received about 82,000 more packages than it could process per day in Qs 1 and 2, FY 2016, when processing machines were operating at full operational performance levels (the optimal rate and time at which a machine processes mail). The plant manager initiated a project to divert IIPs to other facilities, which decreased delayed mail in Q3, FY 2016, by about 80 percent.

The plant manager stated two additional package processing machines are scheduled to be operational in September and October of 2016. During our site visit we observed adequate floor space for these machines. Our analysis shows the additional machines will provide about 10 percent excess machine capacity, assuming there is no change to current package volume. But, it is likely that volume will increase. The JFK ISC IIP volume has grown by over 200 percent in Qs 1 and 2, FY 2016, compared to the same period in FY 2014.

We also found package processing machines are not operating at full operational performance levels. They process, on average, about 8,100 packages per hour, which is about 25 percent below the full performance level of over 10,800 packages per hour. Even though the machines are not performing at full operational performance levels, they are running them more hours than they were designed to run in order to meet volume demand.

During our site visit, we observed international labels without U.S. barcodes or with multiple barcodes. Employees had to manually key in ZIP Codes for each piece causing fewer packages to be processed per hour. Foreign mail requires additional preparation, which causes an inconsistent flow of packages to some of the processing machines. The plant manager initiated a project in April 2016 to improve package processing machine performance through service talks, training, and employee performance incentives. He also instituted a tour turnover sheet to monitor mail counts and the hourly count of machine processing at the end of every tour. However, further machine performance improvement is needed to meet performance targets.

Senior plant management had an inadequate operating plan because it did not reflect critical entry, clearance, and dispatch times. There have been ongoing changes to the original processing plan and the plant manager is currently working to finalize a new operating plan. These time schedules are critical in ensuring mail is processed on time.

In Qs 1 and 2, FY 2016, the Queens P&DC exceeded the Northeast Area’s FY 2016 target of about 10 percent overtime. Specifically, of over 640,000 mail processing workhours used, more than 94,000 (or about 15 percent) were overtime hours. The plant manager said he has to pay overtime to staff that manually sort oversized packages. In addition, overtime is paid

to employees to consolidate mail transported to and from other facilities to maximize trailer capacity, which was not originally included in the P&DC’s staffing plan.

The plant manager said staffing is not properly aligned to meet the required mail processing machine staffing requirements. As a result, the employees are paid overtime to work on their scheduled days off. The plant manager said that in June 2016 he submitted a proposal requesting additional staff to perform manual sort and mail consolidation functions and a proposal to realign positions for the two additional package processing machines. The plant manager has also requested additional package processing machines to process oversized packages more quickly and efficiently. We consider the nearly 29,000 overtime hours that exceeded the 10 percent budgeted overtime hours as excess, at a cost of about $1.1 million. Increased overtime beyond the budgeted amount increases the Postal Service’s costs.

When a facility does not have sufficient machine capacity, operating plans, and staffing, there is an increased risk that mail will not be processed in time to meet its established delivery day. This adversely affects service scores nationwide. Delayed packages reflect poorly on the Postal Service’s brand and can cause customers to move to alternative service providers for package delivery, thereby reducing revenue. Excess overtime can also result in unnecessary costs to the Postal Service.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended the vice president, Northeast Area, develop a 2-5 year staffing and mail processing machine plan for the Queens P&DC to match processing capability with current and projected mail volume, reduce overtime to budgeted levels, and, in the interim, redirect volume to facilities with excess capacity where possible, and ensure a plan is established at the facility in the next 6 months for all packaging processing machine performance to meet targets.

We also recommended the vice president, Northeast Area, instruct the area in-plant support manager to ensure the Queens P&DC consistently uses an updated and complete mail processing operating plan.

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Comments (14)

  • anon

    I am a ecommerce retailer with a monthly volume of about 3000 first class mail monthly. Local post office has been refusing to accept my prepaid packages (about 50 packages everyday). I tried using Bellerose post office (Braddock avenue) which gave some attitude but sometimes accept but i had lot of customers complaining with missing contents and slit in package. I started dropping them at college point 20 ave distribution centre in queens. But today 3 employees made a big scene and refusing to accept my packages. After lot of discussion they finally took my mail but told me not to come there again because there is no guarantee if she will accept it again. Kindly suggest me what to do? should i contact you or local congressman or start giving business to UPS? I really hope you could resolve this matter and i can be loyal customer of USPS. Thank You

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    Just came across this report. It explains why I have an anxiety attack every time one of my items goes through Queens Processing. I am in Western New York. I mailed 2 Priority packages the same day. One to Seattle, the other to Connecticut. Seattle package was delivered in 3 days. Connecticut package went through Queens. Didn't move for 5 days. I called USPS and then after another 3 days it got delivered. Similar timing every time one of my packages goes through Queens. Right now I'm on the receiving end of a package that departed Queens and then took 3 days to go 350 miles to Rochester NY a mere 6 hour drive up I-81. Next day tracking shows it's on it's way back down state arriving in Binghamton NY - 200 miles in the opposite direction it should have gone. USPS customer service rep told me that's the most efficient way to go. When I asked her to look at a map, she said she had no idea where Queens, Rochester, or Binghamton are. And that was after I waited 1 hour 50 minutes to talk to someone. 2 hours of my life I'll never get back. Luckily I found a phone number for the Binghamton location. They told me my package never arrived in Binghamton - it is a result of a larger bin/container scan. They told me my package was not in the bin, an upstream scan error in Rochester or the dreaded Queens. I call my post office and ask who do I believe? The 1-800 lady said it did go to Binghamton and Binghamton says no it didn't. My post office looks into the details and confirms it is not in Binghamton and never was. It is an upstream scan error. And since we don't have it, it's not in Rochester either. So I ask what's next? They tell me they handle 10,000's of packages daily at these processing centers, be patient, maybe it will show up. Maybe? Maybe? And what if it doesn't? Well then you just stiff the person you bought the item from, demand a refund from them because USPS didn't do their job.

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    Would appreciate help to understand what could have possibly happened to this package. It made it all the way from pompano through the jersey city distribution center - then nothing after enroute to BROOKLYN (destination Crown Heights) No updates at all since noon on 1/8/2017 and can’t get anywhere locally so trying alternatives. Contains some personal irreplaceable items. Who can help? Thankyou

    Jan 23, 2018
  • anon

    Over the past 10 years, I've purchased in upwards of 30 items from Europe on eBay and they all came through a New York distribution center. Then the tracking stops there. eBay and PayPal won't refund me because the seller can prove they sent the items, so I lose both item and money. I am currently watching a package that got to New York on November 23rd. It's December 9th and it's still sitting there. Usually after this time frame, it will never be delivered. I am at the point where I believe someone is stealing these packages. After all, at some point, 30 packages should be found and forwarded if they were lost - but never are. Nor are they sent back to their sender's. Lost well over $1,000 since 2007.

    Dec 09, 2017
  • anon

    I have had a package that I mailed out on the December 23rd being shipped back and forth btw queens and NYC, now the 28th AND IT IS BACK AT THE QUEENS DISTRIBUTION CENTER WTF???? I HAVE BEEN GIVEN TGE LOCAL QUEENS POST OFFICE NUMBER AND AFTER 2 DAYS AND 6 HOURS CALLING THE THEY NEVER ANSWER THE DAMN PHONE!!!!!!! THIS PACKAGE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE DELIVERED TO POWELL TN 37849. WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO DO, IF THERE WAS A ERROR, IT WAS DONE AT POST OFFICE. THERE IS A BIG WHITE LABEL WITH THE TENNESSEE ADDRESS WRITTEN IN BIG BLACK LETTERS ON IT. I BLIND MAN CAN SEE THIS IS SUPPOSE TO BE GOING TO TENNESSEE SOWHY THE HELL CANT A USPS WORKER!!!???!!!?

    Nov 28, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a package via air from Miami to Queens, NY on Saturday, Nov,18. I was told it would arrive on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Today is Wednesday, Nov,. 22 and the tracking information says it is delayed and that it arrived to some processing center. What is going on? This is the second time my package is not delivered in timE; the first time being express mail AND THAT WAS NEVER DELIVERED AT ALL. I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED.

    Nov 22, 2017
  • anon

    Could you please help me understand these chaotic movements? Is this the normal and expected way for the things to happen? Why is my package circling around while I could’ve been delivered 2 days earlier? October 23, 2017, 3:58 am Arrived at Unit REGO PARK, NY 11374 Your item arrived at the Post Office at 3:58 am on October 23, 2017 in REGO PARK, NY 11374. October 23, 2017, 3:06 am Arrived at USPS Facility REGO PARK, NY 11374 October 23, 2017, 2:37 am Departed USPS Regional Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 22, 2017, 1:36 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 22, 2017, 1:01 am Departed USPS Regional Facility BROOKLYN NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 21, 2017, 8:43 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility BROOKLYN NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 21, 2017, 9:57 am In Transit to Destination On its way to REGO PARK, NY 11374 October 20, 2017, 3:57 am Departed USPS Regional Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 20, 2017, 2:04 am Arrived at USPS Regional Facility QUEENS NY DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 20, 2017, 1:12 am Departed USPS Regional Facility STAMFORD CT DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 19, 2017, 5:13 pm Arrived at USPS Regional Facility STAMFORD CT DISTRIBUTION CENTER October 19, 2017, 1:27 am Processed Through Facility ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)

    Oct 23, 2017
  • anon

    Out of curiosity, has there been any follow up report / study in regards to the percentage of mail, specifically IIP's, that are being delayed in 2017? Just not sure if improvements have been made or if there are still constraints that haven't been addressed. I'm all for USPS so this is coming just from a logistics managers curiosity.

    Sep 21, 2017
  • anon

    i have a package coming to North Carolina from Florida. after 5 days on the road it says it is at the International Dist Center in New York. Not sure what that's all about

    Aug 25, 2017
  • anon

    I have sent a package from Massachssetts on 26 of April 2017 to Albania and it hasn't arrived yet. I called the USPS office in New York and they weren't able to give me a proper answer. Its been more than three months and the package has not been delivered to thendestination. Does it takes this amount of time to deliver a package or you just lost it. And when we call to find answers nobody gives us a proper answer. I have mailed different packages with USPS and never happened that a package would last more than three months to be delivered. Can you give a valid response about this issue please?

    Aug 07, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a small package from my home in Delaware to my son's apt. In Brooklyn NY. I paid 23.75 for overnight delivery. It was garaunted to arrive there by 12noon today Saturday 7/29/2017. It is 9:15 pm Saturday and no package. If and when it gets there I will be requesting a refund. Poor business and I will not use USPS again for package delivery.

    Jul 29, 2017
  • anon

    Well we have choices in life-- I use the post office for all my Poshmark purchases and never had a problem. I like the USPS. BTW I had delivery issues with UPS AND Fed Ex so don't think they are perfect. :)

    Aug 05, 2017
  • anon

    I sent a small package from my home in Delaware to my son's apt. In Brooklyn NY. I paid 23.75 for overnight delivery. It was garaunted to arrive there by 12noon today Saturday 7/29/2017. It is 9:15 pm Saturday and no package. If and when it gets there I will be requesting a refund. Poor business and I will not use USPS again for package delivery.

    Jul 29, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, I desired to know why my package stop at your side for 20 days. I tracked it but you were not giving me a reason .

    Jul 22, 2017