Saturday, February 20, 2016

Slower Service, Higher Costs: USPS's Phase II Debacle

Slide from a Jan. 2015 Phase II speech
The U.S. Postal Service’s aborted attempt to save money by consolidating its processing facilities backfired: It actually increased costs in 2015, USPS officials recently acknowledged.

Higher transportation expenses from Phase II of the USPS’s “Network Rationalization” effort more than wiped out the program’s savings on labor and parts, the the Postal Service told the Postal Regulatory Commission. The result was a net cost increase of $66 million.

Though they had to go back to the drawing board, postal officials have indicated they will resume Phase II later this year.

The agency loosened its service standards, mostly eliminating overnight delivery, as part of launching Phase II in January 2015. But the USPS suspended the program, including further facility closures and layoffs, after a few months amid public outcry over mail deliveries being even slower than anticipated.
Facilities slated for closure in Phase II
Postal officials had expected Phase II to go as smoothly as Phase I, which they estimate is yielding $865 million in annual savings. Phase II was supposed to close 82 sortation facilities, eliminate 15,000 jobs, and save another $750 million annually.

But Phase II was more complicated than Phase I because it “not only included facility consolidations, but also involved a one-time, fundamental shift in the operating window that was implemented at all mail processing sites across the entire country on the same day,” the Postal Service explained to the PRC this week.

“To implement this phase of the initiative, the Postal Service was required to realign its processing complement work schedules." Because the work at mail-processing facilities varies greatly by time of day, the schedule changes meant that thousands of employees suddenly had to learn new tasks simultaneously.

"The effects of this change in the operating window had a much greater impact on service than was anticipated, but it was a one-time event that is not likely to be replicated,” the USPS filing continued.

As a result, the USPS suspended any further consolidations “until the service could be stabilized. Those stabilizations are still ongoing, and consolidation efforts continue to be withheld.”

In other words, the Postal Service plans to move forward with Phase II but realizes it still has work to do to get ready.

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Anonymous said...

First of all, why do people keep writing articles about the USPS's consolidations without questioning the USPS on where they are getting their data that proves they are saving anything? Any savings the USPS has made in regards to labor, has ONLY come through retirements, which have led to their failures in delivery times! They have not save on dime on consolidations in regards to labor, because they just shift the employees to another facility, but they are still BEING PAID! So, where is the savings? And where is the data on the extra transportation costs associated with consolidations and miss-sent mail? They won't provide that to Congress, because that will clearly show their consolidations have saved the USPS NOTHING!

Anonymous said...

Cut management wages. We have suffered enough.

Morgan Escapee said...

I think (although who can get into the decision makers' heads?) that they were trying to move as many people as possible off of Tour 1, thinking they were going to save from paying less night differential. Also, they probably thought that drastic changes might push some more people toward retirement. However, where I used to work, there has been non-stop overtime on Tour 3 since this change happened. I'm sure they're paying more night differential hours plus tons and tons of overtime costs. Every tweak they do to try to "improve" things fails. People were put into operations they knew nothing about and somehow expected to get the mail out on time. Others were just so ticked off by schedule changes, they didn't give a hoot about their work (some of them probably didn't care that much beforehand). Add in non-careers being driven into the ground by overtime, things really haven't improved there.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dead Tree Edition
I have tried to contact different outlets to share my story with. I've faced my share of struggles with mangers at the Post Office . I believe my story needs to be heard. The harassment is so intensely fierce that you will become to imitated to return to work. During a morning meeting with our manger we were told due we want her to be the bitch. So here's how it went. There was a announcement made for all of the carriers to meet her in the center of the room for a morning meeting. We were told about the scans that were missing. Then our manger continued to state that we need to make sure were hitting all of the scans because we don't want her to be a "Bitch" because some of y'all don't know how I used to be. But you all don't want me to be a bitch. Some other replied in fear and said yeah you don't. Then stated to another carrier during the meeting where's the can't get right due. And everyone laughed and said yeah where's can't get right. I've never in my life ever worked for an establishment that will treat you this way. The guy never responded to can't get right calls then the meeting ended. I don't know the true feeling of the guy they were speaking of, but I felt so bad and humiliated for him. Listed below is a copy out of there own policy and procedure manual.

d. Be respectful. Whether in the actual or virtual world, your interactions and discourse should be respectful. The Postal Service Standard of Conduct states, “Employees are expected to maintain harmo­nious working relationships and not to do anything that would contribute to an unpleasant working envi­ronment.” Do not verbally attack other individuals or companies. This includes fellow employees, contrac­tors, customers, vendors, and competitors.

I really want the harassment to stop and to be able to do my job.