Data use is critical for all aspects of the U.S. Postal Service’s operations, including determining costs and setting prices. That’s why data systems need to be accurate and reliable.
Our recent audit report looked at the Postal Service’s Management Operating Data System (MODS), a web-enabled application that gathers, stores, and reports data on workload, workhours, and processing-machine use by operation and facility type. The Postal Service uses MODS data to anticipate mail volumes at facilities and to project workload and staffing requirements. It also uses MODS to track mail processing activities, evaluate the efficiency of facilities, and estimate staffing requirements.
In addition, the Postal Service uses MODS mail volume and workhour data in costing and pricing activities. MODS workhour data helps USPS calculate totals for many of the cost pools within its specific cost segments, such as the Clerks and Mail Handlers Cost Segment. Cost pool totals are then attributed to competitive and market dominant mail products and services. Using this data, USPS can price products and services more precisely.
We found opportunities for the Postal Service to improve the accuracy and reliability of MODS data for costing. In data we reviewed from Quarter 1 (Q1) of fiscal year (FY) 2017 to Q3 of FY 2018, we found the following reporting errors: 5 percent of workhours reported without associated mail volume; and 2 percent of mailpieces recorded without associated workhours. During site visits to 19 mail processing facilities, we found MODS reporting errors occurred due to ineffective internal controls over the use and management of the system.
These ineffective controls increase data-integrity risk and result in workhour data that does not reflect actual operational activities. We also found opportunities for the Postal Service to improve its timekeeping practices to more precisely capture workhour data at the activity level.
If you are a Postal Service employee, what opportunities have you seen to improve timekeeping practices?