Zero Base sounds like the first acclimation stop on a climb up Mount Everest. It’s actually an important program to help the U.S. Postal Service control costs in its Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) program.

The PVS fleet transports mail primarily within a 50-mile radius: between processing facilities, inner-city delivery offices, and among local businesses and mailers. The Postal Service has about 8,800 PVS drivers, who are career employees, and more than over 26,000 PVS vehicles. Its PVS operation cost the Postal Service over $1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which includes salaries (including overtime), benefits, and fuel.

Managers of transportation departments at the processing and distribution centers (P&DC) must complete annual Zero Base reviews to optimize PVS operations. These reviews examine and recommend efficient staffing, scheduling, and vehicle usage. The P&DC management report PVS Zero Base review recommendations and estimated projected cost increases or savings to USPS management at headquarters.

Our recent audit report found the PVS Zero Base initiative did not achieve its projected savings of $98 million from FYs 2014 through FY 2017. Rather, it reported increased costs of $21 million due to an increase in labor and fuel expenses. Our review found opportunities to reduce PVS transportation costs.

Notably, we found that driver schedules contained unnecessary hours, especially around loading and unloading times at service points and excessive stand-by time. USPS could save about $51 million over the next year by removing excessive load and unloading hours and stand-by hours from existing PVS schedules.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for other ways the Postal Service can reduce PVS costs?

Comments (3)

  • anon

    There must be more attention to the vehicles design and usage of fuel. I feel that the postal service has neglected to the necessary thought into the effects of winddeflectors for there over the road vehicles. I feel that all of the postal service competitors have taken advantage of a winddeflectors shield on their vehicles but the postal service is year's behind when it comes to innovation for saving fuel and reducing cost. What would it hurt to try coke cola ups fed ex all have a winddeflector on their vehicle and has reduced fuel cost because of it.

    Oct 13, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. Installation of wind-deflectors is an interesting idea. The trucking industry has reported modest efficiency improvements in trucking can be obtained with the installation of trailer side fairings, fairings on the backs of their tractors, and aerodynamic wheel covers. This may be a good idea USPS should consider for controlling costs in the PVS program.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    The cost we are paying for multiple repairs to multiple vehicles has far surpassed the cost of new vehicles. Purchase electric vehicles for City or County deliveries. Then put up parking lot covers over the vehicles with solar panels on top. With built in power stations powered by solar the vehicles could charge over night. We would reduce our emissions footprint, stop the huge costs of repairing the vehicles, have a healthier option for our employees being able to load in the shade vs direct sun, save over $100,000 per FY in fuel costs, and in most areas of California we could greatly reduce or eliminate our operating power costs for building lighting. As the cost of solar panels and electric vehicles come down this becomes more and more a viable option for the Postal Service. The vehicles, panels, and covers to hold the panels and cover the vehicles would pay for itself in approx 5-7 years for a level 22 office. Then the set up would be an asset as well as a money saver for many years to come. We need new vehicles. They are at least 15 degrees hotter inside the vehicles than the outside temps. OSHA is now involved with the deaths of some of our carriers due to hot temps and hot vehicles. Bottom line is we need new vehicles as we are loosing money every day trying to keep the 30+ year old vehicles we currently have afloat. We just need to be smart about how we go about obtaining and powering them.

    Oct 10, 2019