OIG: USPS Northern Virginia District Used More Workhours Than Necessary To Deliver Mail

Highlights from the USPS OIG Audit Report – City Delivery Efficiency Review – Northern Virginia District

Delivery operations are the Postal Service’s largest operational function, accounting for approximately 45 percent of salary expenses and workhours. Despite an annual increase of approximately 1 million delivery points, delivery operations used 36.5 million fewer workhours in fiscal year (FY) 2009, because of effective growth management, increased use of automation, standardization of best practices, and improved productivity. Although delivery operations used fewer workhours, workhour reduction has not kept pace with declining mail volume. Nationally, city delivery mail volume declined by 3.9 percent in FY 2010. During this same period, mail volume declined in the Capital Metro Area by 2.4 percent, while workhours declined by 2.8 percent. The Northern Virginia District mail volume declined by 2.7 percent in FY 2010, while workhours declined by 3.2 percent

The U.S. Postal Service is delivering fewer pieces of mail to a growing number of addresses as new households and businesses are added to the delivery network each year. The Postal Service must achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency to accommodate this new growth while facing financial losses from declining mail volumes and rising costs.

The Northern Virginia District was not operating at peak efficiency and could reduce city delivery operating costs. Our benchmarking comparison determined the Northern Virginia District used approximately 16 minutes more per day than the national average for each carrier route, compared to the standard for that route. This equated to more than 103,000 workhours annually. The measurement for this factor, called percent to standard,2 was 123.24 – about 17 percentage points above the national average of 105.95 percent.

Although numerous factors were involved, our review of 20 randomly selected delivery units confirmed these inefficiencies and determined Northern Virginia District management did not always (1) provide sufficient review and oversight of unit offices’ operating efficiencies and (2) coordinate with the mail processing facility to ensure mail was timely received and in a condition that promoted operating efficiency. Eliminating time-wasting  practices and increasing focus on efficiency could allow management to reduce workhours.  

Some examples include ensuring that:

• Management provides sufficient oversight of morning and afternoon office operations.  
• Vehicle inspection process is efficient.  
• Carriers are timely and correctly clocking into afternoon (p.m.) office time.  
• Units receive the proper mix from the processing facility per the integrated operating plan (IOP).3  
• Carriers spend less time waiting for mail.  
• Clerks and carriers do not unnecessarily re-handle unshelved mail transport containers to identify and retrieve delivery point sequence4 (DPS) mail.  

Consequently, the Northern Virginia District used more workhours than necessary to deliver  the mail. Adjusting its operations would increase the Northern Virginia District’s overall efficiency by reducing 103,160 workhours, resulting in savings of more than $3.2 million  annually or about $32 million over 10 years. See Appendix C for additional information  about this issue.  

We recommend the district manager, Northern Virginia District:  

1. Reduce the Northern Virginia District’s workhours by 103,160 to achieve an associated  economic impact of about $32 million over 10 years.
2. Require processing facility managers and delivery managers to coordinate, review, and  update all integrated operating plans to ensure mail arrives timely and in the condition necessary to promote office efficiency.

Management’s Comments

Management agreed with the findings, recommendations, and opportunities to capture monetary impact.

In response to recommendation one, management agreed to reduce city carrier office hours. Management’s action plan includes reducing carrier inefficiencies in the office by implementing and monitoring standard operating procedures (SOPs); increasing operational audits for compliance with established best practices; providing additional training for supervisors on managing office time; flexing carrier start times for tours; and improving on-time mail arrival profiles. Management plans to implement action by February 2011. 

Managing Morning and Afternoon Office Operations

Supervisors did not provide sufficient oversight of morning operations. Specifically, the vehicle inspection process was not always efficient. Our observations disclosed that delivery units lost several minutes per day because of carriers searching for vehicles before inspection. Five of the 20 delivery units lost time because parking spaces were unassigned.

In four other delivery units, carriers waited in line to get vehicle keys. Postal Service policy states employees should park vehicles near the dock in assigned spaces identified by individual route numbers. In addition, policy states employees should conduct vehicle inspections promptly after clocking in for the morning. The policy also requires vehicle keys to be located adjacent to time-recording equipment (see Illustration 1).

In addition, supervisors did not always effectively manage afternoon office time at 11 of the 20 delivery units observed. Some carriers spent 10 minutes or more in the office after returning from their routes. Postal Service policy allows a standard 5 minutes for carriers to perform afternoon office duties. We also observed some carriers not clocking directly to “office time” upon returning to the unit in the afternoon, resulting in much of this additional office time” being included in street operations time.

Adjusting its operations would increase the Northern Virginia District’s overall efficiency by reducing approximately 103,160 workhours, resulting in savings of more than $3.2 million annually or about $32 million over 10 years.

USPS OIG Audit Report – City Delivery Efficiency Review – Northern Virginia District

14 thoughts on “OIG: USPS Northern Virginia District Used More Workhours Than Necessary To Deliver Mail

  1. WTF, Disgruntled! You busted your a** and got back early? How dare you! GIVE THAT CARRIER MORE ROUTE! We’ll make you throw your hands up in defeat in no time at all!

  2. Yep, FSS in NOVA, wait for rest of the country then go there and you will find same. Tell me something, 5 mins in the pm to clear everything, okay. Now lets say, I finished my route and came back 15 mins early because I ran it or did not take a break. No mail to case in the pm, so I have 15 mins in the pm, which means if supervisor try to send me back out again, it will take 10 mins to go to another route and come back or what should I do, STANDBY???? I have to do 8 hours to get paid, no 701 rule anymore. OIG will say 10 mins wasted but they will not say that I finished the route 15 mins earlier than the time given by their god, I mean management’s DOIS.

  3. Your DPS is over volume or has a full coverage in it. That doesnt take any more time.

    If you only take half a set of 3rd bundle it doesn’t take any more time.

    PM Office time sorry no clerks to clear your accountables, why are you over 5 minutes.

    Remember mail volume doesn’t effect your street time at all, only am office time.

    Hey in Miirap we took 23 minutes off your overburdened route, but your base mail volume went up by a foot.

    These are examples of the problem. The PO sets you up to fail when they should be helping you succeed. If you are meeting your numbers on your route
    they will just change the numbers untill you are failing.

  4. By the way, I think we need to rethink the whole “no strike” rule. And our picket signs should simply read, I AM NOT A ROBOT!

  5. I’ve been carrying mail for 12 years now. When I started out, my zone had six routes. We are now down to four routes. The same area it once took six carriers to work is now being covered by four carriers. According to “them”, mail volume is down. But because of the route adjustments made by “them”, my route has gone from 900 stops to over 1200 (plus the extra I have to carry at least twice a week because “they” can’t seem to get the schedule right). Sooooo, sorry if I’m not moving as freakin fast as the almighty computer and “they” think I should be. I’m doing to work of two people most days. I agree with Frank, “f@$k every last one of them.”

  6. We can argue the differences forever! One thing is clear “poor management”, it all starts from the top, and it is amazing to see how incompetent people hold supervisor or manager positions all over the country. The ones that can’t do anything end up in a leadership position, they try to nail employees for clock rings or pity stuff, yet they spend lots of money on equipment that is not necessary at outrageous prices. We need a complete overhaul to make every single person have some kind of pride on what they do, and finally work as one team instead of individuality.

  7. Wait a minute! Northern VA? Where the FSS has been in operation for three years? I thought this miracle of modern mediocrity was going to REDUCE carrier hours. And OIG, you say they are actually higher than everyone else? Lucy, you got so0me ‘splainin to do!

  8. care4mycustomers
    No, it’s NOT people like Frank “with that kind of attitude who are helping destroy the carrier trade!”
    I have worked here for 29 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes.The POST OFFICE is doing its best to destroy the carrier trade and take away any pride in our job and any ability to do our job well.
    I have a good attitude and a great relationship with my customers, but we are being micromanaged to death. I do a great job, but it’s in spite of the Post Office and it’s many conflicting/nonsensical rules, not because of it. I know how to go around stupid senseless rules to GET PEOPLE THEIR MAIL.
    I don’t even blame local management. Years ago, when we had jerks for management, they were acting on their own. Today, our local management is totally powerless and scared senseless. They are at the beck and call of the higher ups. I don’t feel sorry for them as they chose this job, but I don’t take it personally when they get obsessed over the “rule of the day”-I know it’s come straight from Seattle.
    So cut Frank a little slack, I’m sure he’s been pounding his head against the wall for many years and is just sick of it.

  9. In 2008, Carrier X delivers an average of 2 letters to each of his 500 stops.
    (500 stops and 1,000 letters)
    It takes him 7 hours of street time.

    In 2010, Carrier X delivers an average of 1 letter to each of those same 500 stops, and a letter to each of his additional 100 stops. (600 stops, 600 letters).
    He is now given only 4.2 hours to complete his route, because his mail volume is only 60% of what it was in 2008.

    This analysis was done by a college graduate, using simple math on a computer.

  10. care4mycustomers;
    you sound like a 204b slack who can’t or won’t do your own carry route!!! A 204b is a leech on every hard working postal craft employee!!!

  11. I think it’s time for people like Frank to leave and let people who do care take his position!
    It’s people with that kind of attitude who are helping destroy the carrier trade!

  12. You’re right. It’s all bullsh*t. And that is why I don’t give a goddamn about anything that goes on in my office. I don’t give a sh*t what they say. I won’t hardly do anything anymore. I used to bust my ass to try and do a good job, now 26 years later, f@$k every last one of them.

  13. This is absolutely ridiculous. They aren’t going to give us a monetary incentive to leave, they are just going to make our lives miserable until we go on our own.

    You can pick apart ANY workplace to find “lost” minutes, since people aren’t robots. If they hadn’t found these specific “problems” I bet they would have found something else to justify their determination to micromanage every second of every day.

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