The U.S. Postal Service’s surface network uses highway contract routes, which are routes of travel served by contracted suppliers to transport mail between plants and other designated stops. The suppliers are expected to operate according to scheduled arrival and departure times defined in the contract. From fiscal years (FY) 2020 to 2022, the Postal Service reported that 679,407 scheduled highway contract route trips were omitted, meaning the supplier failed to run a scheduled trip. Omitted trips increased by about 129 percent from 132,158 in FY 2020 to 302,096 in FY 2022.
What We Did
Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service efficiently manages highway contract route omitted service. To accomplish our objective, we reviewed outbound highway contract route trips from FYs 2020 to 2022.
What We Found
The Postal Service has opportunities for improving the efficiency of managing omitted trips. Specifically, from FYs 2020 to 2022, we found over 20,000 instances where the Postal Service incorrectly identified trips as not being performed by the supplier, when the trips were actually canceled by the Postal Service. We also identified an additional 6,591 missed trips that were incorrectly categorized as the supplier’s fault, but should have been canceled by the Postal Service due to scheduling or other issues. Additionally, we found the Postal Service underreported deductions from supplier compensation for trips not performed and processed reimbursements for deductions made to supplier compensation without going through a review and approval process. Furthermore, in FY 2022, over 80 percent of the trips not performed by the supplier were not categorized as either chargeable or excusable. As a result, the Postal Service incurred costs of about $52.5 million for omitted service.
We recommended the Postal Service (1) update the Surface Visibility application to prevent canceling and issuing an omitted trip for the same trip; (2) issue supplemental guidance reiterating when a trip should be omitted or canceled; (3) develop a standardized activity description for omitted service in its Transportation Contract Support System; (4) develop a standard work instruction for omitted service reimbursements; and (5) develop a plan to verify that personnel are following the standard work instructions and completing required fields for omitted service.
USPS Proposed Resolution
Coordinate with the Enterprise Analytics group to update the Surface Visibility application to prevent canceling and issuing an omitted trip irregularity for the same trip.
Issue supplemental guidance to clarify and reiterate when a trip should be omitted or canceled.
Develop a standardized activity description for omitted service in the Transportation Contract Support System.
Develop a standard work instruction for omitted service reimbursements.
Develop a plan to verify that Administrative Officials are following the Surface Transportation Automated Forms standard work instructions and completing required fields for omitted service.