USPS OIG Report: Management Advisory – Benchmarking Mail Distribution to Carriers
A few excerpts:
The Postal Service and industry carriers are similar in that individuals perform some sorting of volumes for delivery, load their own vehicles, and assume additional delivery points when a colleague is absent or mail volumes require it. However, the Postal Service is unique among the companies we visited in that carriers deliver a more varied mix of mail, including letters, flats, and parcels; and must comply with a Universal Service Obligation. If the Postal Service incorporated the assignment of some delivery unit activities to part-time employees, additional savings could be achieved.
The Postal Service may have opportunities to improve operations by adopting some industry best practices for distributing mail to carriers. We noted commercial delivery businesses have staffing flexibilities, such as the ability for employees to work across craft assignments, which allow managers to more efficiently match workhours with workload and offset overtime by using more part-time employees. See Appendix B for our detailed analysis of this topic
Flexible Delivery Unit Assistants
Postal Service city delivery carriers have office time allowances built into their 8-hour days to case and prepare mail for their route. Based on workload trends, vacancies,absences, and mail volume, the carrier may perform these activities for other routes. A small percentage of delivery units use full-time carrier craft “routers” to case and prepare the mail for delivery exclusively; Postal Service management stated the use of routers is declining. Routers typically case and prepare the mail prior to the assigned carrier’s arrival; routers may or may not perform street duties later in the day, depending on need. See Appendix B for our detailed analysis of this topic.
If the Postal Service used part-time delivery unit assistants to perform most in-office work, these employees could absorb all carrier morning activities except loading and driving delivery vehicles. Having part-time employees case and prepare mail within delivery units could result in annual reduced workhour costs between $621 million and $2.3 billion and greater flexibility for the Postal Service. Additional savings could be generated from carrier route adjustments resulting in longer routes and less office time for the carriers. See Appendix C for our analysis of monetary impacts.
We recommend the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations:
1. Pursue a delivery unit assistant initiative to have transitional employees or part-time flexible employees perform in-office activities including casing and preparing mail for carriers.
Management disagreed with the recommendation because of the complexity of labor relations and existing contractual issues with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Management further stated that the Postal Service is currently working with NALC to examine how city delivery routes might be structured in the future. The parties are working on a test that will attempt to separate the casing and delivery functions to the extent possible while operating within the current work rules.