USPS OIG: Exclusion Factors

The Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) allows the U.S. Postal Service to track mail in real time from acceptance to delivery without the need for seeding and sampling of pieces.

The IMb is an information-rich barcode applied to mail pieces for automation discounts, free address corrections, and other services known as full-service mail, which serves as the cornerstone of the Postal Service’s official measurement system.

However, not every piece of mail is full-service IMb. And even some full-service pieces do not get scanned because of untrackable barcodes, unknown acceptance times, no barcode scans, or inaccuracies in mail preparation.

In fact, nearly a quarter of all full-service mail is excluded from service performance measurement, our recent audit report noted, which means USPS can’t see exactly where these pieces are in the entire mail stream.

While the number of full-service pieces excluded from measurement decreased by 2 billion pieces from FYs 2017 to 2018, more than 21.7 billion mailpieces (or 21.7 percent) of all full-service mail was still excluded in FY 2018. That percentage was slightly higher (23.4 percent) for the first quarter of FY 2019.

We found that about three-quarters of excluded mail occurred due to three reasons: no start-the-clock (acceptance) scan, no piece scan, and long haul, which occurs when the Postal Service transports a mailpiece from a mailer’s facility, or detached mail unit, to a processing facility in a different district. USPS doesn’t currently have an automated process to determine the specific time mail leaves a detached mail unit to start its service performance measurement.

We found the Postal Service has not addressed various root causes for excluded mail. Furthermore, we found the Postal Service didn’t notify mailers with the most excluded mail about why their mail was excluded. We recommended better communication with mailers and with district personnel, who are supposed to contact mailers.

We recommended the Postal Service explore forming a workgroup with mailers that have the largest amount of mail excluded from measurement to develop a plan for fixing issues. We also recommended that the Postal Service ensure that area and district officials understand their roles and responsibilities related to this excluded mail.

What would you suggest the Postal Service do to reduce the amount of full-service mail excluded from service performance measurement?

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