September 23, 2015 – Earlier this month PostalReporter reported on the Office of Inspector General’s audit of the USPS Sierra Coastal (California) District.OIG cites late mail, letter carriers wasting time as reasons in $7.4m extra workhours cost for USPS Southern California District
The audit was conducted in order to assess the office efficiency of city delivery operations. This OIG audit reports on the office efficiency of city delivery operations in the San Francisco (California) District.
USPS Office Of Inspector General City Delivery Office Efficiency- San Francisco District -September 15, 2015
In 2014, San Francisco District city carriers delivered over 1.5 billion mailpieces on 2,116 routes to more than 1.2 million delivery points. City delivery office workhours for this period totaled 1,430,600. The San Francisco District’s percent to standard was the fifth highest in the nation, at 116.93 percent. This was 11.85 percentage points above the national average of 105.08 percent. This variance means delivery units in the San Francisco District used more office time on average than the national average.
The San Francisco District could increase office efficiency and eliminate 158,847 workhours annually, saving 19 minutes on each route per day. This could be done by adjusting mail arrival times, correcting inefficient office practices, completing Integrated Operating Plans(IOPs) and enforcing policies and procedures at delivery units. We visited 29 judgmentally selected city delivery units (see Appendix B) and identified instances of:
■■ Late mail arrival or improper mail mix at 21 units.
■■ Time wasting practices by carriers at 15 units.
■■ Outdated or nonexistent IOPs at 29 units.
■■ Managers not enforcing policies and procedures at 27 units.
At 21 of 29 delivery units we visited, mail did not always arrive from the processing and distribution centers (P&DCs) on time or in the correct mail mix, as outlined in the IOP.7 Also, mail received from FedEx did not always arrive at the delivery unit in time to be integrated for sorting with mail received earlier from the P&DCs. We observed carriers in several units waiting for parcels to be distributed (see Figures 1 and 2).
Inefficient Office Practices
We observed instances of carriers being inefficient while on office duty, including carriers loading their vehicles on office time and not clocking back to office time when returning to the office in the afternoon. Specifically, we observed city carriers at 15 of the 29 delivery units loading mail into vehicles on office time rather than clocking to street time. This resulted in unnecessary office time at these units. Postal Service policy states carriers should proceed directly to their vehicles and load the mail in an orderly fashion after clocking onto street time.
Additionally, in 27 of the 29 delivery units we observed, we found supervisors need to better monitor carriers’ afternoon office time.We saw some carriers spending more than the allotted time in the office after returning from their routes. Further, review of the Route/Carrier Daily Performance/Analysis Report showed 284 routes with zero minutes for P.M. office time. This indicates carriers were not clocking back to office time when returning to the unit in the afternoon, resulting in office operations being recorded as street time.
Non-Existent Integrated Operating Plans
Management could not provide IOPs in 8 of the 29 units we visited. The IOP contracts cover mail arrival from the plant and identifies the mail product or class agreed to for each individual trip. Additionally, all IOPs need to be updated to reflect changes in mail arrival due to the implementation of Network Rationalization Phase II. The IOP is meant to stabilize mail flow and help the delivery unit establish appropriate staffing and reporting times to ensure carriers are not delayed.
Enforcing Policies and Procedures
Management did not always enforce policies and procedures for supervising city delivery office operations. For example, supervisors at 19 of the 29 delivery units we observed did not always set daily expectations for carrier route performance.
Additionally, supervisors at 27 of the 29 delivery units did not review performance from the previous day with carriers during morning office operations. Some supervisors printed the required reports but did not always discuss them with the carriers.
In some instances, supervisors did not even print the reports.
Supervisors are required to discuss expectations with each carrier every day. Also, if a carrier is not meeting performance standards, a supervisor must investigate and discuss deficiencies with that carrier. All delivery service managers should develop and maintain delivery units at a high degree of efficiency and assure Postal Service standards are maintained.
During 2014, the San Francisco District used 158,847 more workhours than necessary, resulting in $7 million in questioned costs.Furthermore, increasing overall efficiency at these delivery units would allow a onetime cost avoidance of about $7.2 million in the following year.
We recommend the district manager, San Francisco District:
1. Eliminate 158,847 workhours at delivery units.
2. Eliminate inefficient office practices such as loading vehicles on office time and excessive P.M. office time.
3. Increase mail arrival efficiency by preparing up-to-date integrated operating plans with facility processing managers.
4. Ensure adherence to Postal Service policies and procedures for supervising city delivery operations at delivery units.
Management agreed with the findings and recommendations. However, management conditionally agreed with amount of workhour savings.In response to recommendation 1, management conditionally agreed with the need to eliminate 164,798 workhours. Management stated their conditional agreement was due to the high turnover in the City Carrier Assistant (CCA) position during the period of study which resulted in higher training hours and lower efficiency, and a higher than normal volume of Political Mail. Management further stated that a reduction of workhours will be achieved through better office and street efficiencies and reduction of overtime. These actions will be accomplished through training Postmasters, Managers, and Supervisors to identify and correct inefficiencies and issue corrective action where warranted. This will be completed by March 31, 2016.
In response to recommendation 2, management agreed with the need to eliminate inefficient office practices such as loading vehicles on office time and excessive PM office times. Management stated this will be achieved through 1-day counts and effective supervision through individual engagement with City Carriers. Also, on a daily basis, office performance will continue to be sharedwith the Senior Operations Managers, Postmasters, and Customer Service Managers. Management stated training for observing and correcting inefficient office work practices will be completed by March 31, 2016.