Audit Report - NO-AR-14-002 - 01/21/2014

Is the U.S. Postal Service prepared to meet the package volume growth coming from an explosion in online purchasing? That was the question behind our recent audit of package processing capacity.

And the answer? With the ability to process 29 million packages daily, the Postal Service can manage the 24 million packages it now processes, on average, 11 months of the year. It has also been able to manage the spike in volume during the holidays by supplementing with manual processing. But to meet projected annual volume growth of 5 to 6 percent through 2017, the Postal Service needs to improve its throughput in a few critical ways, a recent U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit found.

Optimal staffing is critical. At six of the seven facilities we visited, there were not enough cullers or loaders on the processing machines. Throughput suffered because the machines jammed or packages rotated around multiple times before being sorted.  Standardizing package processing across the network will also help optimize throughput.

Mail needs to arrive on schedule so it is available at the beginning of the machine run to avoid processing delays. And finally, increasing run times on Automated Package Processing System and Automated Parcel and Bundle Sorter machines could improve processing. Between April 2012 and March 2013 these machines’ average run times were 11 to 14 hours per day versus a goal of 17 hours per day

The package processing audit is one in a series the OIG is conducting to help the Postal Service take full advantage of opportunities for new revenue from package volume growth.

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