A lot of things changed in 2020. One was an unprecedented increase in online shopping. People who’d never done it before dove into internet shopping. For those who already shopped online, they shopped more. As a result, the Postal Service, and other parcel delivery companies, quickly adjusted to handle the increase in parcel volume.
The Postal Service realized it needed additional transportation in some spots to carry the extra volume. And one way to quickly add more transportation is using something called “as needed” highway contract routes. The name is self-explanatory — routes used only as needed or on demand. While they have the advantage of being flexible, they cost more than regular transportation contracts.
In a recent audit, we looked at the Postal Service’s use of “as needed” routes. While we recognized the parcel surge justified USPS using more “as needed” routes between FYs 2019 and 2020, we identified a few areas where they could be better managed. In fact, 86.4 percent of the “as needed” routes we sampled did not comply with processing and payment requirements. Noncompliance issues included missing and incomplete forms, as well as incorrect, inconsistent, and conflicting information. We also found opportunities for USPS to convert “as needed” trips to the less expensive dedicated transportation.
Part of the Postal Service’s Delivering for America 10-year plan is shifting to a fully optimized surface transportation network. Our recommended corrective actions will help USPS as it moves forward with this part of the plan.