USPS needs to make delivery performance information more complete, says GAO

As reported by Post & Parcel: 
A new report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that actions need to be taken to make the information available on the US Postal Service’s delivery performance “more complete, useful, and transparent”.
In a statement issued yesterday, GAO said: “U.S. Postal Service (USPS) measurement of on-time delivery performance has expanded greatly over the past 9 years, but remains incomplete because only 55% of market-dominant mail (primarily First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services) is included. The remaining 45% is excluded due to various limitations, such as not having barcodes to enable tracking.”
The GAO said that this was an issue which needs to be addressed because “incomplete measurement poses the risk that measures of on-time performance are not representative, since performance may differ for mail included in the measurement, from mail that is not”.
The report also flagged up that the US Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) “has not fully assessed why USPS data are not complete and representative”.
The GAO commented: “USPS’s and PRC’s reports on delivery performance are not as useful as they could be for effective oversight because they do not include sufficient analysis to hold USPS accountable for meeting its statutory mission to provide service in all areas of the nation. USPS’s and PRC’s reports provide analysis, as legally required. However, this national-level analysis does not facilitate an understanding of results and trends below the national level, such as for USPS’s 67 districts, to identify variations and areas where improvements are needed.”
The report also found that “USPS and PRC are not required to provide—and do not report—performance information for rural areas”. This is a problem for the GAO because this was precisely the information that several Members of Congress have been calling for (as part of their stated aimed of “defending” rural mail services). The GAO said that USPS had claimed that providing an analysis on its performance in rural areas would be “costly” – but it could not provide specific cost estimates.
The GAO has, therefore, issued this recommendation: “To assist in determining whether to require USPS and PRC to report on delivery performance for rural areas, Congress should direct USPS to provide cost estimates related to providing this information. Further, GAO recommends that USPS and PRC take steps to improve the completeness, analysis, and transparency of delivery performance information.”
The GAO added: “USPS and PRC agreed with the recommendations addressed to them, but disagreed with certain findings on which they are based. GAO believes these findings are valid, as discussed in this report.”
The politicians who have been campaigning on the rural mail issue – namely Senators Tom Carper, Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester (all of whom area members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee) – have published a statement regarding the GAO report.
Senator Carper – who is currently steering his Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 (iPOST) through the Senate – commented: “The Government Accountability Office [has] found that the delivery performance results that the Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission provide do not give Congress or postal customers an accurate assessment of service.
“While the Postal Service can and should take steps to address these serious shortcomings in performance and transparency, Congress must also help the Postal Service get better in this area. My bill, iPOST, would help put the ‘service’ back in Postal Service by stabilizing operations and requiring measurable improvements to delivery performance across the country. It would also require the Postal Service to publicize its performance data on its website so customers in all areas of the country can assess how the Postal Service is doing in their communities.”
Senator Heitkamp added: “As we learned from this new GAO report, how can the Postal Service possibly improve delivery in rural communities if it doesn’t accurately track the time it takes to deliver mail to these areas? There is no reason why we shouldn’t have access to that data. But we can change that. Senator Carper and I worked to include provisions in his bill to require the Postal Service provide definitions for urban, suburban, and rural communities, and mandate mail delivery performance goals that hold the agency accountable for improving delivery in underperforming communities.”
Ken Wood is the founder of LJM Consultants. LJM helps clients negotiate “Best in Class” UPS/FedEx agreements. LJM was recently named the “best parcel auditing company in America” and was also inducted into Inc. Magazine’s Top 500/5000 fastest growing companies in America for 2013. To learn how LJM Consultants can help your company get the parcel contract you deserve, call 631-844-9500 or email
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