It’s not only travelers that have to deal with delays at the airport. Seems inbound international mail does, too.
But the U.S. Postal Service isn’t necessarily at fault when inbound international mail is delayed. While on a plane and even after it’s unloaded but not yet tendered to the Postal Service, inbound international mail is the responsibility of the foreign postal operators and their agreements with air carriers or ground handlers.
However, in our recent audit on this topic, we noted some ways the Postal Service could improve its monitoring of inbound international mail.
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) guidelines say mail should be tendered at a USPS International Service Center (ISC) within one to two hours maximum after landing. Our audit report found significant delays in the Postal Service’s receipt of inbound international mail at the ISCs.
Our analysis of 5.4 million receptacles received at ISCs between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, and flight log data, showed:
- About 4.3 million receptacles, or roughly 80 percent, of mail tendered to the Postal Service exceeded the two-hour UPU guidance.
- About 63 percent of receptacles were tendered between two and 12 hours; 20 percent took 12 to 24 hours; and about 17 percent took longer than 24 hours.
- Delays were more prevalent during the end-of-year peak mailing season.
Postal employees have no authority to manage ground handlers, but they do assess and record the status of receptacles in what are called ramp reports. We recommended ramp reports be completed consistently across all ISCs. In addition, USPS should incorporate more available data into its reports — such as the date and time the mail arrives at the airport to better indicate how long a receptacle has been in the United States.
We noted the Postal Service is already coordinating with foreign posts, ground handlers, and others on notification about delays and on developing fixes.