Our objective was to determine if the U.S. Postal Service’s processing network is operating at optimal efficiency and meeting service standards.

Our fieldwork was completed before the President of the United States issued the national emergency declaration concerning the novel Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) on March 13, 2020. The results of this audit do not reflect process and/or operational changes that may have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

The Postal Service estimates significant revenue declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout. Therefore, it is vital that the Postal Service focus on its financial health and address causes for costs increasing at a time when mail volumes decreased.

The Postal Service needs effective and productive operations to fulfill its mission of providing prompt, reliable, and affordable mail service to the American public. The Postal Service also has service standards that specify timeliness targets for delivering mail. As part of its five-year strategic plan, the Postal Service’s Optimize Network Platform initiative is responsible for evaluating, right-sizing, and equipping the mail processing infrastructure and transportation networks to increase operating efficiency, reduce costs, and improve reliability.

This is a follow-up audit to the U.S. Postal Service Processing Network Optimization (Report Number NO-AR-19-006, dated September 9, 2019) audit and the Assessment of the U.S. Postal Service’s Service Performance and Costs (Report Number NO-AR-19-008, dated September 17, 2019).

In the prior projects, we found the Postal Service has not decreased processing costs at a rate consistent with the decline in mail volume. As a result, the Postal Service is processing mail with lower productivity for letter, flat, and manual operations. Additionally, even though infrastructure costs have been increasing and volumes are declining, the Postal Service has not met the majority of its service performance targets over the past five years.

This audit was designed to further determine the causes of these operational and service challenges. To do so, we conducted 18 site visits at Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DC) nationwide, with 10 focusing on processing efficiency and eight focusing on service impacts. We observed well performing facilities and those which had performance challenges, and we selected each by analyzing efficiency and service performance metrics for mail processing and transportation operations. In addition, we conducted 24 site visits to delivery units associated with the P&DCs to observe mail processing impacts on delivery and how delays in obtaining collection mail impact mail processing.


Although we found certain locations with best practices in place to improve efficiency and performance, generally, the Postal Service’s processing network is not operating at optimal efficiency. Additionally, the Postal Service’s drive to meet service performance targets has increased costs and inefficiency due to issues with integrating mail processing, transportation, and delivery operations.


We recommended management:

  • Implement best practices identified during site visits to increase operational efficiency and management oversight nationwide.
  • Create a program to develop emerging leaders into potential front-line managers and require all acting managers to participate.
  • Ensure front-line managers use the RPG to manage mail processing operations.
  • When the impacts of COVID-19 begin to subside, develop a plan, with milestones and measurable goals, to increase staff availability, including applying standard operating procedures to address employees out for significant periods of time.
  • Develop an automated system to monitor performance of the inte­gration among processing, transportation, and delivery operations.

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Comments (9)

  • anon

    This Full report begins with a contradiction: First it says: "Our fieldwork was completed before the President of the United States issued the national emergency declaration concerning the novel Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19)" Then it says: "The Postal Service estimates significant revenue declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout" Which is it? How was that conclusion drawn if this report was concluded BEFORE the declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak?

    Aug 24, 2020
  • anon

    Good question, I'd like to know this answer

    Sep 02, 2020
  • anon

    Both the Atlanta and Augusta Ga hubs are inexcusable post handlers and I’m totally ashamed of the USPS package delivery. Their three day priority mail is taking 10 days from what I have observed. It’s time for some hard decisions to remove the barriers in our system that has a monopoly on our nation. Top management has to be put on notice and then filter to middle man agent at branch level where the I don’t care attitude is the main problem.

    Aug 04, 2020
  • anon

    I'm having issues with Atlanta and Augusta as well. Packages bouncing around different distribution centers in Atlanta for weeks before making it to Augusta. Then Augusta has misrouted my packages back to other cities no where near me. Makes no sense.

    Aug 05, 2020
  • anon

    Zip code 77554. We need our regular mail delivered in as timely a manner as posdible, if I can't get my mail, I won't be able to renew health benefits with UTMB. Help

    Jul 15, 2020
  • anon

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

    Jul 16, 2020
  • anon

    I have read your audit visit report "Table 4. Summary of Mail Processing’s Impact on Downstream Operations During Site Observations" and see that N Texas is the worst offender in mail processing malfunction among the visits. I can believe this, NOT COVID, is the cause of the severely damaging failures to deliver individual international returns to the IRS in Texas. Evidence and testimony is being gathered for class action bv harmed US taxpayers living in the UK.

    Jun 26, 2020
  • anon

    Thank you for up dating my address

    Jun 18, 2020
  • anon

    Great job

    Jun 18, 2020