U.S. Mail Delivery After Dark

OIG – 9/18/17 – Who doesn’t like finding a package they ordered online on their doorstep at an unexpected time, like, say, late in the evening just before you turn out the porch light for the night?

Consumers have come to expect quick delivery of parcels, often at odd hours of the day. This new paradigm comes at a cost, however. For the U.S. Postal Service, it means their city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCAs) are delivering packages after the targeted return time of 6:00 p.m. Returning late from their routes raises safety concerns — especially when it gets dark earlier —  and overtime costs.

Few are complaining about the ecommerce explosion, mind you. It’s driving a growth in parcels — even as letter mail volumes decline. This package boom, along with a downsizing of the Postal Service workforce and evolving customer needs, have led to changes in the network and delivery. Furthermore, a wide range of variables, such as weather, employee absences, or new carriers to a route, can affect delivery on a daily basis. 

All of this poses challenges for the Postal Service in meeting its goal of 95 percent of letter carriers being off the street by 5 p.m. and 100 percent by 6 p.m. Our recent audit of the Bay Valley (CA) District — in the heart of the nation’s ecommerce hub — found that carriers and CCAs fell short of the 100 percent goal by 6 p.m. In calendar year 2016, only 75 percent of carriers returned to the office by 6 p.m., our report said.

Bay Valley certainly is seeing the effects of ecommerce activity, as well as Sunday package delivery, and grocery delivery service: The district had a 16 percent growth in package volume in calendar year 2016 over the previous year, topping 101 million packages. In some areas, package deliveries now regularly occur early in the morning and as late as 10 p.m.

We found a mix of underlying reasons for missing the targeted return time: Insufficient staffing, late or improper mail arrival, inaccurate route adjustments, and insufficient supervision. The Postal Service agreed with our recommendations to improve the underlying conditions.

We welcome your suggestions as well. What more could be done to get carriers off the streets on time? Given all the variables that can affect the ability to complete deliveries by the targeted time, what additional precautions could be taken to enhance carrier safety?

Source: USPS OIG

PEN Editor: We cannot answer questions regarding this OIG article. You may post comments below or at the OIG website here.

8 Responses to "U.S. Mail Delivery After Dark"

  1. Bill   September 23, 2017 at 9:08 am

    So you think that the USPS cares one iota about the safety of the carriers. That’s nice. All they care about is the numbers, and data that the computer spits out. Carriers health and safety sounds good. But they definitely don’t practice what they preach. (Ret. L/C)

  2. AMANDA   September 24, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I received an accountable letter on 9/21/17 at 6:39 pm. I wasn’t home at the time. The carrier signed for the letter then left it in the mailbox. Why are these carriers doing this? What if I didn’t want the letter?

  3. Rick Richardson   September 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Poor planning is rarely the carriers fault. Management deliberately overburdens routes and harasses carriers to meet computer standards with no regard to whether or no those numbers make sense. Being short staffed and working many hours of overtime because of poor scheduling has been a problem in Dallas district for last fifteen years. Nothing new about this news to me.

  4. Jan   October 4, 2017 at 6:07 am

    1) If local postmasters and its subordinates would to respect areas’ main processing and distribution center (P&DC) instructions it would minimize O/T, and it would certainly help dilivery personnel not to feel overwhelmed and stressed out to the point of having to call in sick, etc. — when a local P&DC receives mail with a note saying: “For delivery on Tuesday”, or “For delivery on Wednesday”, such instruction should be respected and not process such mail during the weekend or on Monday, for delivery on Monday, forcing the mail carriers to work O/T unnecessarily.
    2) For as long as local management continues to ignore delivery instructions;
    for as long as local management continues to mismanage daily day and night operations, the USPS will face a lot more deficit by forcing regular clerks and PSEs to work O/T, especially now that the USPS is reducing the workforce causing shifts to be shorthanded.
    3) Further, should management personnel at some locations would to continue to ignore basic principles of proper/adequate/efficient/proactive professional supervision, the deplorable entitlement attitude of many regular employees;
    management’s nepotism;
    management’s favoritism;
    management’s discrimination;
    management’s entitlement attitude — believing and behaving as if they were the USPS location owners and doing whatever they want to do — both (regular employees and management) will continue to negatively impact productivity.
    4) Last, but no least, while some clerks and PSEs continue to abuse the time allocated for breaks and lunches — sometimes taking 20 and/or 40 minutes breaks instead of 15, for example — productivity will continue to suffer.

  5. Jan   October 4, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Oh, one more thought-

    Will the USPS consider creating and implementing an efficient and proactive system to select employees to occupy position of authority — lead clerks included?

    Thanks to technology as well as the generosity of altruistic souls around the globe, there are tests on-line that could be utilize to help employees and executives in positions of authority or power to better prepare themselves to select the right individuals for the right position. The following is an example-


    The only way to improve employees’ moral, thus increase productivity, would be for the USPS to understand and, more importantly, to accept that the system it currently has to retain or promote employees into positions of authority is a very poor and inefficient one. And that opening their minds and hearts to better ways of executing such important decisions as the one of hiring people into oppositions of authority and responsible for guiding and supporting employees, motivating them to be the best that they can be, and teaching them by their example — instead of by threats, disrespect, undue manipulation and intimidation, and unethical behavior.
    Conduct that is very difficult for employees to prove to upper management due to the archaic system the USPS has operated under for decades, a system which gives management personnel every opportunity there is to abuse the authority bestowed upon them by USPS representatives. There is very little, if anything, to protect employees against abuse by their USPS supervisors, managers, and postmasters. This is more evident when supervisors, managers, postmasters, and other individuals in position of authority, lack moral values and high standards.

  6. RJ   November 14, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Earlier start times! When we used to start at 630 or even 700 we didn’t have carriers out after dark. Even though the mail is ready and parcels are done or done within 15 mi idea of our current start time of 8am they still won’t bring us in any earlier.

  7. Tonya   November 14, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    All carriers should begin at 6a.m. to 2:30p.m. 2 hours overtime is still good,now you’re at 4:30p.m. ALL CARRIERS OFF THE STREET BY 5P.M. SAFE AND AT HOME WITH THEIR FAMILIES. IT CAN AND SHOULD BE DONE.#DALLASDISTRICT

  8. Kris   November 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    We need to recieve the mail at our stations earlier! Carriers should be starting earlier and would be able to finish with daylight! It is not only obviously much safer to deliver in the light but it also takes much longer in the dark driving overtime up. Even with our late start times we are standing around waiting for the mail a few days a week! The entire schedule needs to be adjusted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.