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Pushing the Envelope Blog

Top 10 Postal Stories of 2023

Date: 01/15/24 | Category: OIG

Now that January 2024 is in full swing, it’s a good time for our annual look at the top 10 postal stories of 2023. Check out our countdown and let us know what you think in the comments below.

10. Postal Service finalizes its electric vehicle plans – USPS finished its supplemental environmental review in December and officially decided to purchase a mixed fleet of 106,480 Next Generation and off-the-shelf delivery vehicles through 2028; 62 percent will be battery electric. USPS also made initial orders for charging stations, and we examined how the Postal Service was preparing for this infrastructure in a recent audit.

9. USPS gives the advantage to groundThe Postal Service shifted mail away from air transportation to ground and rolled out its new two- to five-day Ground Advantage product for packages up to 70 pounds in July.

8. Countries rethink their postal obligationsAs making money from mail becomes more difficult, universal service obligation (USO) rules have started to ease. Australia moved to every-other-day delivery for most letters, although daily delivery is still available for parcels and letters paying an extra charge. Denmark abolished its USO rules, allowing market forces to decide service levels everywhere except small islands. The European Union also kicked off a new study of the postal sector with a workshop and survey.

7. Amazon edges out UPS and FedEx at the doorAmazon now delivers more parcels to U.S. homes than either carrier according to The Wall Street Journal in November, but the Postal Service still retains the lead. The announcement reflects the changing parcel delivery market as small third-party logistics grow, and e-commerce giants place more local hubs closer to customers to speed delivery.

6. High heat endangers carriers – The death of a Texas postal carrier due to excessive heat led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to cite and fine the Postal Service. OSHA said the Postal Service failed to protect employees from “the recognized hazard of high outdoor heat.”

5. Marketing Mail misses the market – Volume fell by 11 percent in FY 2023 following two years of modest growth after the pandemic. Is this a one-time change or a new trend? USPS-initiated research by Winterberry, released in September, emphasized the continued value and performance of direct mail but also described some barriers to growth such as a new generation of marketers unaccustomed to using mail and the rising cost of postage and materials lowering return on investment.

4. Staffing shortages spur service woes in some areas – While USPS has increased its career workforce, complaints about poor service due to staffing issues continue to make news in certain parts of the country. Members of Congress have also expressed concern. The OIG responded through our ongoing field reviews and individual audits such as our recent examination of Delivery and Customer Service in Colorado Mountain Towns.

3. The new processing network starts to take shape – The Postal Service made progress in calendar year 2023 towards its network goals under the Delivering for America plan. USPS opened two Regional Processing and Delivery Centers (RPDCs) and around 20 Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs), some of which we audited in September. In addition, USPS insourced several surface transfer centers from contractors to postal workers and also completed nine Mail Processing Facility Reviews in order to move some processing operations.

2. Mail theft takes a dangerous turn – As mail theft problems persist, mail carriers are facing increased assaults and robberies for their arrow keys (universal keys for mailboxes). News reports have encouraged customers to avoid sending checks through the blue collection boxes. To combat the problem, the Postal Service is rolling out new accountability measures and lock technologies. We did a deep dive into mail theft issues in our audit Postal Service’s Response to Mail Theft.

1. USPS loses $6.5 billion – Despite the Delivering for America plan’s stated hope that the Postal Service would break even in 2023 or 2024, USPS lost money last year and forecasts a $6.3 billion loss in FY 2024. These losses are only about half of what the Postal Service projected would happen without the plan.

And finally, while it may not fall in the top 10 postal stories, we have to include a bit of good 2023 news for the OIG. Our new website, which launched at the end of January last year, was listed as a runner up for Website of the Year in the Granicus 13th annual Digital Government Awards.


Postscript:
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MLKJ Day 2024 Photo

Today, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work to end discrimination and ensure civil rights for all. Learn more about our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion here.

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Michael Dedeyne
Jan 17, 2024
Your Comment
I most recently read some complaints on a blog concerning our USPS personnel in the services in which they provide it kind of got under my skin a little bit listening to all these complaints made against our USPS personnel and the way they handle our mail it is my opinion in my experience throughout the 62 years of life that the USPS mail service does an extraordinarily excellent freaking job like any company anywhere in the United States there's always issues I don't care what company it is but overall are United States postal service reaches every address in which every person in the United States lives and has delivered mail to I would have to say 99% to 100% of every one of them addresses are there flaws of course they are but at the same token we place our male in our mailbox or in the postal service because we are assured without doubt that that mail will be delivered to the person in which we are addressing that mail too regardless of where they live are United States postal service will make dang sure that it gets there if it's me misrouted the first thing they want to do is apologize to us for that mistakes happen people where do we get off pushing blame on a service that is cheaper than any other mail provider that is out there maybe what we should be asking the United States postal service is this raise your rates that way you have more income to hire more employees but no we would rather sit back and complain and moan and groan about what these folks aren't doing or how are precious letter got misdirected by accident to someplace else and how doggone we had to wait for it really try losing your luggage on an airport where does that end up you never get it back how many times have you left something in the supermarket department store it never got it back the United States postal service will always assure us and assure each one of us in the United States that if we mail something through them it will get there and be the first ones to apologize if there's a delay in it delivery so stop whining and complaining about a United States postal service when each and every one of us know without a doubt that that male will be delivered regardless of any delays or Miss Mar or Miss routed package we get them we have no doubt that we get them through this service through another service try finding your lost package through FedEx try finding your package through UPS and thank God you don't live in an old little bitty town in Kansas you expect delays all the time because it is a small town come on folks isn't there bigger problems to be complaining about that are United States postal service who in my opinion and in my eyes hold my highest regards in highest honors and my best wishes to all of them in this up and coming year and hope that people will stop complaining and come up with solutions to help are United States postal service.
To the United States postal service personnel all of you my wife and I send you our very very best wishes for this new year be safe out there and please continue the excellence in which we entrust in you and you provide for each and every one of us in the United States and beyond our borders heartfelt thank you and may this new year be a very very prosperous one to y'all
Your Name
Mike Oxlong
Jan 17, 2024
Your Comment
Every other day delivery for letters is a good idea and should be implemented here. If it was urgent I'd do it electronically.
Your Name
Mike Oxlong
Jan 17, 2024
Your Comment
Been really happy with Ground Advantage so far. Prices and shipping times are reasonable.
Your Name
Mike Oxlong
Jan 17, 2024
Your Comment
Staffing shortages are only going to get worse as the birth rate continues to fall. If USPS is not already researching the automation of delivery (and not just sorting plants), e.g. with drones or a robotic arm mounted to the side of a truck, it needs to start.
Your Name
Eloise Schwarz
Jan 15, 2024
Your Comment
In our Del Webb community (HOA) I am friendly with our mail lady and make sure she has water and treats when I see her on her rounds. During the summers in FL - it get hot and her journey is exhausting. I have been doing this for the last 5 years here as I have in WI for our 50 years we have been married. As a nurse, we all serve our fellow citizens and I appreciate whom ever helps us in our community.
Your Name
Mary Evans
Jan 15, 2024
Your Comment
I believe the Postal Service does a great job in my area. I am thankful for what you do to ensure we receive our mail in a timely fashion and not damaged.
I know you have a difficult time finding reliable people to work. This appears to be an ongoing problem across the country. Finding people who are honest who want to work
is another matter. Please continue to do what you do and keep looking for ways to do it better.
Your Name
Lona Huizar
Jan 15, 2024
Your Comment
I have NO complaints with the Postal Service in Metaire Louisiana.
I’m pleased to have the mail carrier that our neighborhood has.
Your Name
Jim
Jan 15, 2024
Your Comment
I truly believe it's time for the uspo to close the doors. They are a antiquated agency from yesteryear. The pony express was once a viable option but had to go away and be sunsetted. This is where the uspo is at. Technology has passed them by and now it's time to say goodbye