The U.S. Postal Service has one of the largest civilian vehicle fleets in the world, with more than 190,000 vans and other vehicles used to collect and deliver mail. But the fleet is aging and 142,000 long-life vehicles are near or past their expected service life. The Postal Service has taken a fix as fail approach to servicing its delivery fleet, even though it would sometimes be more efficient to replace vehicles when they break down. At the same time, the agency has an acquisition strategy but it lacks detail and has not been implemented due to financial constraints.
The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General estimates the current fleet can sustain delivery operations around the nation through fiscal year 2017. But an unexpected drop in inventory or an increase in motorized delivery routes could lead to a vehicle shortfall. We urged the Postal Service to continue to pursue short-term annual vehicle purchases and formalize a long-term plan to replace the fleet. New vehicles should include emerging safety and environmental technologies, which could help the Postal Service reduce fuel and maintenance costs and achieve its sustainability goals. The Postal Service should act quickly, however, because replacing vehicles could take more than 10 years.