Audit Report - NO-AR-14-004 - May 5, 2014

The U.S. Postal Service missed the opportunity to save more than $2 million annually in transportation-related costs in southern Florida because management did not have surface visibility (SV) system data it could rely on to identify unnecessary transportation and driver workhours, our recent audit found.

The SV system tracks mail as it moves through the network based on employees’ scans of barcodes on trailers and containers, such as sacks, trays, and tubs. The data collected from the barcodes are used to plan, manage, and optimize the surface transportation network.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently took a look at how the SV system is operating in the Suncoast District. We found employees were only scanning containers 27 percent of the time. Most of the time they estimated the trailer bed loads and manually entered the information into the SV system, rendering it unreliable. Employees improvised in this way either because they said it was easier than scanning or because containers were not barcoded as they should have been.

Because the SV system data were not reliable, we estimated the Postal Service missed an opportunity to eliminate or modify 103 trips from highway contract routes, which would have saved about $1.9 million annually. In addition, the Suncoast District could have eliminated almost 3,000 postal vehicle drivers’ workhours, yielding about $135,000 in annual savings.

We recommended the Postal Service ensure containers have the proper barcodes for scanning and implement controls to ensure employees follow scanning procedures. We also recommended the Postal Service eliminate the excess trips and driver hours we identified, or explain why it was declining to do so.

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