Service is in the name, so you know it’s important. Indeed, U.S. Postal Service managers place service performance at the top of their priority list – sometimes even over the financial health of the agency, our recent audit report found.

This could be a part of why postal costs continue to rise, even as volumes decline. Managers do what they need to do to keep the mail moving. And yet, the mail isn’t moving fast enough – the Postal Service did not meet national service performance targets for any mail class in fiscal year (FY) 2018. And, over the past five years, the Postal Service met annual service performance targets more than once on only four of its 31 mail products.

There’s a major disconnect here. During the last five years, mail volume decreased by 8.8 billion pieces, or 5.7 percent, yet costs associated with processing, transporting, and delivering mail have increased by about $5 billion, or 13 percent. And, service performance fell short.

What’s going on? It’s not easy to sort out because the Postal Service does not know how much it would cost to meet its current service performance targets or the financial and customer service impacts of reducing the targets, our report found.

And here’s another head-scratcher: about 80 percent of respondents to the FY 2018 Delivery Survey were satisfied with their mail and package delivery. This significant satisfaction rate suggests that USPS’s own service performance targets may not always be aligned with customer expectations.

But you can’t drive changes without a road map, which is what we recommended in our report. The Postal Service should conduct a cost-benefit analysis, including a sensitivity analysis, of current service performance targets. This analysis should evaluate additional costs incurred for extra operational services to meet performance targets, as well as ways to limit extra services when they are not financially feasible.

Comments (30)

We welcome your comments related to the topic on this page. Complaints about the Postal Service, including lost, stolen or mishandled mail, that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

Leave a comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
  • anon

    The postal service definitely needs a full revamp. Only trying to increase the speed of the carrier is not the answer. The post office is losing potentially excellent employees by only focusing on the numbers. For some time there have been signs plastered all over the post office and the postal trucks in our area, Belmont, CA, that the USPS is hiring. Obviously there is a need for employees. Yet just today, an employee who is enthusiastic, makes maps of the route, comes in early, consults with other carriers, puts up with constantly being told that he's not meeting the averages instead of receiving constructive criticism which could actually help him get faster, was forced to resign or be fired shortly before the end of his 90 day probation period. Averages are exactly that. Sometimes the time is less and sometimes more. There are so many variables - volume of mail on that day, traffic, weather, people chatting, etc. Also, averages are based on time of all postal carriers. Is it not logical that a carrier who has been working less than 90 days will have a higher average time than someone who has worked the same route for over 20 years? Has it become a postal wide policy to save money by hiring people for the probationary period and then letting them go in order to avoid the cost of a full employee? It seems like a very backward policy and definitely not sustainable. A constant turnover of employees will ultimately cost more. In addition, focusing on the speed of the carrier cannot be the only priority. There is a physical maximum speed. Instead, more focus needs to be placed on the full process of distribution from the top down and not the other way around.

    Nov 27, 2019
  • anon

    USPS is no doubt vital to America. Just quit delivery of packages, and junk mail services. When I get mail I like to know it's important. Sell unneeded infrastructure and do what we as citizens need and want. - My best advice. Eventually a network of small Hyperloop like tubes connecting major cities and smaller ones to connect nearby towns would be smart.

    Nov 20, 2019
  • anon

    Service standards may need improvement . There is always room for improvement however time wasting practices are not enforced. Floor plans such as work triangles where distances to collect product are not efficient. Moving equipment to get to equipment and product is obstructed or too tight to pass which causes delays. Shortage of carts and extra hampers causes the worker to wander around looking for these essential tools you need to get your job done in a timely manner. These issues effect the carriers performance along with vehicle delivery maintenance issues. Pavement cracks not filled in . Hamper wheels squeeq and do not roll smoothly. Inadequate maintenance repairs are of poor quality. 1767 Reports are cherry picked and ignored to correct problems. Cut cut cut, is the word . No longer replacing the items and letting things go. Yoyo managers never held accountable for there assigned post office. Enough said.

    Nov 06, 2019
  • anon

    I’m a former fan of the Postal Service, converted now to a staunch opponent of its continued existence in its current organizational structure. "Whatever it takes" is absolutely, positively, false in our area (32621 and 32696). It should be changed to "Whatever is the least work and most money for us so we can get to our pension." We moved to an address on a major highway for our area (US 27 Alternate), and are apparently near the fringes of where two postal coverage areas collide, and cannot get either to deliver to us. There are 10-12 boxes in the same position along the route I take home from work, between the P.O. and my house, that I see them delivering to all of the time. The last box is probably 300 feet before ours. Initially they said they couldn't find us. Google and Apple Maps sure can. They said "well, they don't deliver your mail". Nope, sure enough, because, if they did, I'd be getting way better service. Then they said it's too dangerous because they'd have to U-Turn on the 4-lane highway. False. They don't do it for the other boxes along the way, and they could right turn onto a road right after our driveway that they already service, anyway. Then they said it "wasn't on their route". So, this is Florida, there will be new houses and development that will not be on your old route. Your routes will change over time. They're just lazy. They pushed us to get a P.O. box. Of course. More money for them, much less work. One of these two Post Offices doesn't open until 9:30, takes off an hour or more for lunch (closes the doors), and then it's locked again by 4 pm or sooner. The office is literally only open to the public 5 1/2 hours per day. I would be totally ready to pay for a P.O. box if I didn't pass them delivering to people on my same road, which just happens to be a primary road through this area, with mailboxes all along the way, positioned exactly the same distance from the road as mine. I've previously been a fan of the Post Office, and used to tell people "I don't know how they do it". Maybe that applies to some post offices, still, but not those in our area. I'm fully for privatization of the system and am going to be contacting my Congressman this week with more details, facts, maps, etc, to demonstrate what sort of runaround and coercive extortion we're getting from this monopoly that is supposed to exist to serve the public. I would gladly pay a private firm more per parcel to deliver my mail in a courteous, respectable, and consistent way. 95% of what we receive is junk mail, anyway, and competitive pricing and costing would eliminate that problem. At our prior address, just 4 miles down the road, still in zip code 32696, we regularly (like every week or two) would receive someone else's mail. I'm sure they were also getting ours. What’s worse about this organizational structure is that, upon calling a national 1-800 number, we were simply told they have no power over the local offices. So, they operate as little fiefdoms where each Postmaster Czar gets to bully the public, and the public has no recourse, and the employees have no accountability. No wonder this organization has been targeted for overhaul so many times in Congress.

    Nov 06, 2019
  • anon

    Well the office I work At has failed to monitor routes so several routes are claiming more Mail and packages than they truely have and others are overburdened by many homes and stops Yet the regular carrier has managed to manipulate her numbers to conceal such information so as to not have to have her route cut. I’ve been a sub on this same route over 14 years and seen an increase in homes of over 30 new homes and more stops and an additional 2 miles yet she still manipulates her numbers to hide such increase. Someone needs to come into this office and see what is going on. It’s very obvious if one honest inspector were to come see. In fact one can just come in and look. I’ve mentioned it to three different post masters yet none have cared. Personally I’m getting pretty tired of post masters asking why am I so slow when the real question should be how my regular is so fast. My new regular carrier is the one that cam from a different route but she is also the one that manipulated the numbers on her old route which is the smallest route in our office yet gets paid the same as my 46. She has also told her friend To slow down so its not so obvious.there needs to be more observation on these routes. as far as saving money by eliminating the counts and thinking carriers are going to be honest about scanning mail with a scanner periodically is a complete failer. One cannot expect a dishonest carrier who doesnt want their route cut is not going to be honest. I have come to believe the Post Office at least this office truely does not value honesty and integrity

    Nov 02, 2019
  • anon

    I think postal mail should be eliminated and all mail should be handled through more of a safe reliable system that wont cost too much

    Oct 28, 2019
  • anon

    Please continue allowing “real mail” to continue!

    Oct 20, 2019
  • anon

    Because I have always appreciated the USPS and it’s marvelous personnel, I would not want to see it change. I have many correspondents and there are lots of online pen pal groups who celebrate mailing REAL letters who would miss the Postal Service as is. We willingly accept the price increases (even if we remark on it) because we want to keep the NationalAND worldwide connections we have made over the years. The Letter Exchange (LEX) is a group which has a large following and features listings by interest both national international. Letters keep families in touch too in a unique way that email cannot do. Just my two cents

    Oct 20, 2019
  • anon

    As a rural carrier I want to comment on the Delivery part of the report. "In addition, on average, only 67 percent of delcon scans occurred by the Postal Service’s target time of 7:30 a.m. and only 66 percent of mail carriers returned from their route by the Postal Service’s target time of 5:00 p.m." Our routes are evaluated at a time of low mail volume, but we are expected to do more work at other times in the same amount of time, not possible, that is why we are under the evaluated system. We will go over our evaluated times during high volume times. When we have to wait for either the USPS or Amazon truck to bring the mail/packages, or wait for the clerks because they are shorthanded to scan and sort everything then we are late getting out to the route, when we are late our customers are at the mailbox to let us know us we are late - making us even later. When a route is evaluated as returning to the PO at 4:30 PM and we are an hour late getting on the route, we will be an hour or more late, we cannot "make up that time" by delivering faster, that would be unsafe to us and the public, that is when accidents happen. "Overtime and penalty overtime costs in mail processing increased $327 million, or 43 percent. This includes using over 29 million additional overtime hours than planned. While overtime costs and hours increased, straight time decreased 7.7 million, or 4.3 percent in mail processing." In the rural carrier craft the RCA position make less per hour than the regular carriers. Many offices are understaffed with RCAs, our office has been for about 10 years. The way management treats our RCAs is horrible. If I was an RCA at this time, I would QUIT just like many RCAs do. Since we are short staffed in the RCA ranks that means the regulars are working OT on their relief day costing the PO about $45/hr instead of $18/hr. Make management get the RCA positions filled and give the proper training, not just a little training and throw them to the wolves (public). I've heard managers say that our job is so easy they could train a monkey to do it, if they could get a driver's license. If it is so easy then management needs to get out of the office and on a route when they are not fully staffed. "Mail processing delays increased 43 percent." We need definite cut off times, if truck is late we are supposed to have 20 min leeway for leaving office. When truck is late we should not be expected to make up that time. We should take the most we can get cased up within the 20 min and then go. We can case when we get back to get ready for next day. Quit expected the carrier to make up for the mistakes of managers who are not doing their job of managing the mail. "Late trips increased almost 60 percent and extra transportation trips have increased by 90 percent. The Postal Service reported these trips cost $140 million in FY 2018." Carriers are sent out and then called back to the office when a truck shows up late. That has to stop. If they missed the cut off then it should go tomorrow and managers need to do their jobs. Another option would be to call in the RCA's (that we don't have because management hasn't hired them) that should be on staff and have them help to get it all done. Instead managers want us carriers to make more trips costing more money and making us later and later. "Service Performance targets are determined by the Postal Service’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) with Board of Governors approval. Postal Service management said the Postal Service is continually evaluating the network infrastructure, transportation network, and volume trends to evaluate the process capability of the targets. Changes to service performance targets are made by the ELT with approval of the Board of Governors. " Maybe they need to quit continually evaluating these things and get out and do the job of delivery and pick up so they can be in touch with the reality of what we do everyday so they can be better informed in how to meet their Service Performance targets. I've been delivering for the USPS for 24 years, there have been many changes over the years. It is time to get out of the office and deal with the traffic, the public, the dogs, the weather, the scanning requirements, the vehicle breakdowns and maybe management will be better at setting and meeting their targets.

    Oct 18, 2019
  • anon

    I live in a small town that is growing fast (as many are). Our local Post Office is staffed with friendly and efficient staff. They are always helpful and the daily mail is done well even if the times change due to volume. Even with e fast growth, the service keeps up and we sometimes see the Postmaster coming out to the front see if service is going smoothly. I hope this never changes as we depend on the USPS a lot!

    Oct 20, 2019
  • anon

    I think people need to come into the trenches and see what really goes on, you have districts at this very moment who are telling carriers no driveways. If the package is not walkable leave a notice for pick up at PO. Not to mention as a carrier I see so much mail and wonder how in the world are we losing money. Although they say volume is going down our workload time is up. It just does not add up.

    Oct 17, 2019
  • anon

    Everything is not the same when it comes to PO ex. iWork and live towns beside it self 35 yrs at work one snow flack delivery is curtailed. Where I live 3 miles from work my mail has been curtailed once

    Oct 17, 2019
  • anon

    I think somebody has already figured out the cost of doing business. The postal service's problem is getting congress to repeal the laws regarding our operating revenue. I don't see that happening until the postal service locks the door and turns off the lights.

    Oct 17, 2019
  • anon

    I can't afford to send Christmas or birthday cards to my family because of the price of first class stamp. The forever stamps are an improvement. I bought some post cards to send some short messages to friends and family.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    Service standards already were lowered and many plants closed years ago. According to your own OIG reports the "savings" from this was essentially zero. Has something changed since then that better results would be expected?

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    Hello. Thank you for your comment. We found the costs associated with processing, transporting, and delivering mail are outpacing revenue increases. And electronic diversion is causing a decline in First Class Mail (its most profitable product), the Postal Service mail mix is changing. This changing mail mix is helpful to understand the Postal Service’s costs.

    Oct 18, 2019
  • anon

    It's an open secret in our office that our District is moving toward centralized delivery as seen in other countries such as Canada. Although this will certainly reduce costs as carriers will no longer be walking up long flights of stairs to deliver a single piece of Standard Mail, it will not create sufficient savings to rescue the Postal Service. Centralized Boxes over mounted street delivery simply do not save as much time as the Service imagines. However, the Service simply must reduce some aspects of service to be in line with the reality of modern mail composition. There is a better option which recognizes that our primary customers are businesses and large mailers and 6-day residential delivery is an costly public-service relic of the past. In this proposal, there would be two types of routes--business and residential. Businesses would be consolidated into 5-day Mon-Fri routes. Residential and rural carriers would each have two geographically adjacent routes. The mail for each of those routes would be prepared each day, but only one would be carried. Essentially, they would be Mon-Wed-Fri and Tues-Thurs-Sat delivery schedules. Parcels would be of two basic classes--Priority and Standard. Priority would be delivered every day on both adjacent routes and Standard would be held back until the actual delivery day for that route. Businesses located within residential areas could receive delivery along with Priority parcels for 5 day service--depending on zoning and other factors--and businesses requiring 6-day delivery would pay an additional service fee. Obviously there are many other areas that need to be addressed, but this proposal would reduce the carrier work compliment by about one third.

    Nov 13, 2019
  • anon

    Instead of cutting service, cut where it will do no harm to the customers or the PO...namely, eliminate the multi level management system of the Post Office, and let Headquarters communicate directly with each Post Office and Plant. We have no need for the micromanaging that goes on in the Area and District offices, and the loss of these positions alone would probably put the Post Office in the black again. Let postmasters and plant managers do their jobs, without the string pulling from above, by those who have no clue what mail even is.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    Hello, Tommy. Thank you for your comment. In collaboration with its stakeholders (e.g. Congress, Board of Governors), the Postal Service is looking at how to improve service performance and reduce costs. The required levels of Area and District oversight are part of this equation.

    Oct 18, 2019
  • anon

    “Managers do what they need to do to keep the mail moving.” 6 paragraphs and that is the only mention of people. Employees play a very large part in our service. Poorly managed employees. Does management even look at the Postal Pulse Survey results?

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    Audit area cost will have the arranged events as far as the collection services. But the return will have many for those whose agreed to not follow.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    5 day delivery would go a long way.Hours of operation should be like a bank 900 to 300 maybe monday and friday 900 600 Get rid of sunday amazon or charge them more money.also gas for postal trucks.After 48 years as clerk and 35 at 02132 carriers with a poor attitude go to gas station that have the higher cost gas.so on monday a surpersivor can look up what gas station has the cheapest gas in the town and have the carriers fill up at that station i see a 30cents diff at some stations will not mention uniforms ha ha

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    How could service standards get any lower? Service sucks now, if management would report the truth we all could see it.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    So, so true. The office I work at has been mismanaged for years. Supervisors leave the unit unattended for long periods on a daily basis, there is no maintenance on our equipment and half or more are always down and not working making the unit frustrated and unproductive, there are employees who socialize all day because of the lack of supervision whether or not a supervisor is in the office, there is unnecessary overtime because of the unit being unproductive, there are employees who are allowed to make their own schedule and come to work at their availability instead of as needed by the company. Many stroll in when they feel like it. All ok'd by management. Company policy is ignored causing timely delivery to be delayed. There is so much more wrong but no one who cares. And, please don't say wrong department, 'cause I'm done and stopped caring.

    Nov 09, 2019
  • anon

    It appears the USPS has abandoned letter mail service in favor of scanning packages. I remember the days when I could mail a letter to California from my home in Brewer Maine and Billy would have his Birthday car in 3 days now it takes at least 5 and some times 13 days. How dependable would you call the service now, and to make it worse for a little less? I would pay 20 percent more to have the service I had 5 years ago...

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    Hello, Jim. Thank you for your comment. We have reported, over the last five years, the Postal Service met annual service performance targets more than once for only four (or 13 percent) of the 31 mail products. Further, mail processing delays increased by 43 percent.

    Oct 18, 2019
  • anon

    Packages should be inspected at point of origin and not at point of destination. Individuals receiving packages are held responsible (Postage Due) for poor shipping practices by the shipper. The receiver has no control as to how the shipper sends the package. Example: Media mail is purchased by the shipper - the pkg is inspected at destination to ensure the pkg is actual media, when it's not, the individual waiting for the pkg is charged the extra postage. This is faulting the wrong individual. In this case the receiver is penalized and not the shipper; adding insult, the pkg can be returned to the point of origin... unfair - this issue of not packing the item correctly should have been addressed at the point where the contract (exchanging money for shipment) was made. If the pkg was not shipped COD, the responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the USPS/Shipper... that is where the contract was made. Suggestion: If in doubt as to validity of the package, inspect it on the spot and not wait for it to reach its arrival point. Forcing the receiver to pay extra for the pkg, or forcing them to do without their item (as it is returned) is a slap in the face of the receiving customer. Inspect the pkg prior to leaving the original port... or, mid-shipment, inspect and note in the tracking, "INSPECTED AND RETURNED TO SENDER FOR IMPROPER PACKING". This way, the true responsible party is held accountable.

    Oct 16, 2019
  • anon

    YES....USPS needs to inspect contents/parking before accepting for mailing. I deliver crushed/sorry I sat on your box-(not really sat on)...and when the box tape opens shows a 50# bag dog food in a thin-walled box with no extra padding . The box and contents are damaged. This IS the fault of shipper. Why is it ok to use media-mail to send magazines ??? Its not media mail. These need to be opened at window not after it has been paid for. I tried mailing a over-sized parcel at UPS and they opened my box, added extra packing...which I was charged for and they re-taped it and it went on its way. Fixing boxes before acceptance would stop people from receiving damaged parcels.

    Dec 01, 2019
  • anon

    I would like to see you do your package service, delivery and pickup service operate seven days a week. My internet sales runs 24-7. We sell, package but not ship seven days a week. The delivery companies should keep up with commerce. I’m only talking about package service, not letter service.

    Oct 15, 2019
  • anon

    Cost-benefit analysis must be done by some high up

    Oct 15, 2019