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"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," Herodotus wrote back in 503 B.C., but then he never met the efficiency experts from the U.S. Postal Service's office of Inspector General.

In a June 5 report, the IG's office blasts San Diego's mail carriers for wasting time and money on the job, and suggests things they need to do to improve their delivery speed.

The auditors took out their apparently hidden cameras and stop watches and "determined the San Diego District could use at least 6 minutes less street time per day on each carrier route, or about 83,900 workhours annually.

"As a consequence, the Postal Service would save about $3.4 million annually."

"Street time," the audit explains, consists of "every duty a carrier performs from the time they load their vehicle, deliver, and collect mail along the route, to their return to the delivery unit to unload their vehicle."

The report then identifies what it says were a multitude of bad practices observed among San Diego postal workers.

"These included instances such as rehandling parcels by placing them on the ground before placing them in the vehicle, going to their personal vehicles, or engaging in unnecessary conversations or telephone use."

Added the auditors: "We observed multiple instances of carriers not using satchels to deliver mail, thereby making multiple trips to and from their vehicles for more mail, incurring additional street time."

"We also observed some carriers not 'fingering' mail between deliveries to place mailpieces in the delivery order to avoid backtracking.

"A foot carrier routinely performs this task en route between deliveries, while a motorized carrier performs this task as he walks from the vehicle to a house box."

The audit also faulted supervisors for not keeping sufficient track of their delivery minions.

"When asked, several carriers stated they occasionally observed supervisors while on the street, but not on a regular basis.

"Some supervisors said they would like to spend more time observing street operations and correcting inefficient carrier habits; however, their duties in the office often prohibit them from performing these observations."

Local postal officials responded to the findings by saying that "plans were already in place prior to the OIG review to reduce workhours and confirmed the district is moving in the right direction."

"In a subsequent discussion, management stated their plans are ongoing with an estimated completion date of October 1, 2014."

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leebren June 12, 2012 @ 11:34 a.m.

Wow, six whole minutes in the 6+ hour street time. I am sure any worker in America wastes six minutes at least in the course of a day. This is while the Postal Service pays people to do nothing but watch other people work.


mailan804 June 12, 2012 @ 1:24 p.m.

How many of those phone calls were from the carrier's supervisor wanting them to go look up another carrier on the street or how many of them were when the carriers had to call back the post office by 3:00 to let their supervisor know that they were going to be late? Also, the carriers were probably putting the parcels on the ground first because the clerks throw the parcels into the tubs and then the carrier has to set them up in delivery order in the truck to save more time on the street later. The bottom line is that the OIGs doing this study likely have little or no experience delivering mail and believe that carriers are robots and that every second needs to be squeezed out of them. I also didn't notice any mention of the OIG filming the supervisors in the afternoon after the carriers leave the building.


LiamSkye June 12, 2012 @ 5:50 p.m.

You are correct that the clerks place the parcels in the carriers' tubs without regard to the delivery sequence. I personally performed that task for several years. Additional handling is required to place the parcels in delivery order.

I also am personally familiar with the work histories of several employees of the OIG office, having had direct business contacts with for several years, Most of them are auditors from other federal agencies. Many of their findings are questionable at best.

For my part, I wonder if 6 minutes per day reaches the threshold of recoverable work hours. I do not believe that it even comes close so the OIG claim that dozens of work years can be recovered is laughable.


CityCarrier June 12, 2012 @ 1:50 p.m.

It is not the carriers who are inefficient, it is the Postal delivery system that is inefficient. Maybe if the city carriers were not slaves to an 8 hour time clock the Post Office would not be as inefficient as it has created itself to be. Rural carriers who are paid a monthly salary have no time problems and are not treated this way. The Post Office has create a two system pay service for delivery and only has problems with the city delivery system. Until they stop paying an hourly wage with an eight hour, by contract, guaranteed pay day there will always be an inefficient system.


Mailguy55 June 12, 2012 @ 5:34 p.m.

As a rural mail carrier for over 17 years, I would like to educate people on our pay system. We are not paid hourly. Our annual salary is based on a "Mail Count" that is held annually for either a 2, 3 or a 4 week period. Every piece of mail, parcels, scans and the other stuff we do is based on time standards. So basically whatever we get credit for during this mail count determines our salary. This is called the evaluated system. Some days we go over and some days we go under; either way our monthly pay does not change. This basically means we cost the post office less to deliver mail then city carriers. We do not have to wear uniforms and for the most part we probably are less supervised then city carriers. The post office still tracks our time though and we cannot go over 2080 hours in the course of a year or there is hell to pay. I guarantee that most city carriers would not give up their hourly pay to go to our evaluated system.


Scout June 12, 2012 @ 3:08 p.m.

This is pure nazi, slavery, third world country mentality.Come on people these are humans and not robots.Get your heads out of you rears and get real.You are driving craft into the ground, you can not sit behind your cherry desks and say people who carry the load for all are not giving enough.This article makes me want to get sick and scream at the top of my lungs.We are not China, we are the The United States of America where people should be treated as humans.Do yourself a favor people, we have the power of vote, one term only vote every politician you know out of office, one term only and they may get the idea that they work for the people and not the other way around.


Blockpusher June 12, 2012 @ 3:36 p.m.

Blasts???? BLASTS??? They say they want each carrier to be back 6 MINUTES earlier, and you call that BLASTING?? What are you, the Tea Bag Gazette?


jaylee0289 June 12, 2012 @ 3:52 p.m.

Seriously??? 6 whole minutes per route??? Wow!! This is so ridiculous.... 6 minutes could be getting caught longer at a traffic light. Or waiting for an elderly person to slowly cross the road in front of the carrier vehicle. Or slowing down due to a child running in front of their vehicle. & if they are fingering mail between deliveries & trip over a hose or down some stairs, whose fault is that? This is a crappy crying shame & the USPS should find more useful things to do with their time, than harrassing hard working mail carriers. I am disgusted. BTW... I am in USPS management and disagree with this treatment of USPS employees 100%!!!!!!


jaylee0289 June 12, 2012 @ 5:56 p.m.

And which bozo at Headquarters approved the release of this article to the national news? Last i heard, if management has a problem with a carrier, there is a private one on one discussion with the carrier to determine action to be taken (if any applies). But this appears to be an attempt by USPS Headquarters to slander and manipulate the publics opinion towards their own employees. This makes absolutely no sense. If that was me standing in one of those pictures, id be calling a lawyer immediately because it was never brought to my attention that my face would be on national news article about carriers using time wasting practices.


jaylee0289 June 12, 2012 @ 6:25 p.m.

Lets talk about perdiem rates. When a management employee travels to another location for a day, they receive astronomical rates to spend on food. Gas, hotel room is all seperate from food allowance. If i go to StLoius, last i heard the daily perdiem rate is $49 for food per day. Now.... if u eat 3x at McDonalds and only spend $14 during the day, u still get the $49 cash in ur pocket after u file your etravel report. Hmmm. roughly 5 days in StLoius and i get $245 for food, even though i only spent $75 for food. So i made easy profit of $170 tax free!! Is management disallowed from using their cell phones while they are working also? No we are not. Has anyone in upper management ever approached me and said, u just wasted 6 minutes walking the longer way to the supply room so u could get ur copy paper, then u stopped at the drinkn fountain for 3 minutes. No they have onot. Today i was on the phone for 20mins listening to someone at district level manager telling me how much weight she has gained due to a health issue she has.... we really are human beings Mr PMG. Its time for some RESPECT and honest conversation about what you are really trying to accomplish & which political party u are affiliated with and who is controlling your puppet strings.


nan shartel June 12, 2012 @ 5:35 p.m.

leave our postal workers alone...i give them glasses of ice water on really hot days here in Lakeside

stop being a wanker Matt Potter!!!



pbj300 June 12, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

really!!! Its the damn cariers that carry the post office. We have Waaaay to much dead weight at the top telling us we dont do our jobs. Please pay us the way rural carriers are paid and you will see All Carriers Clocking out at 2:00. Just plain tired of over management and all carriers being labeled as lazy and time wasting practices. Wake Up Post Office its not the carriers hurting this business i promise you that.


cpttuna June 12, 2012 @ 7:44 p.m.

At some point in time,parcels must be rehandled to put them in some kind of order for delivery. Since the USPS has no defined system, you will find that it varies from office to office.I would tray my small parcels and divide my big ones as to front part or rear part of the route. Front would go on the left side of the vehicle and back part of the route would go on the right side.If they are not in some semblance on order when the carrier leaves, expect wasted time on the route. Cell phones- another joke. My PM walked with me one day and had 7 incoming calls and made 7 outgoing ones. Mgt is just as bad as craft in this area. either make everyone leave them at their case or just deal with it. I went into the PM's office one day as he got a call from his wife. I stood there for 17 minutes as she yelled at him to do something because the granddaughter had taken a Sharpie to the family room wall. The system is indeed broken and you are worried about 6 minutes.


Cisco1964 June 12, 2012 @ 7:51 p.m.

So lets see... how much money did spend investigating how much time they can cut time off carriers routes. The salary of these "investigators" (chuckles) and supervisors (chuckles louder), the man hours they spent following each carrier, and lord knows how much time to write the report and waste money just to tell us... they have been working too slow (6 minutes). I too work for the Postal Service. I am a APWU official with our local so I do know first hand on badgering, hounding, looking over shoulders, and constant verbal harassment the carriers go through from the supervisors. What is next diapers for our carriers so that they don't have to stop and use the restrooms? Standby for stopwatches on nature calls.


cpttuna June 12, 2012 @ 7:58 p.m.

I like the comment made by the supervisor that he did not have time because of office paperwork. When I first start with the USPS, Iwent on loan one day to another office. The PM demanded a min of i hr street observation by the supervisor on a daily basis. On this particular day, the supervisor was full of excuses. The PM wasn't buying it and ordered him into the office. The supervisor came out a minute or two later and it appeared that a certain part of his body had been altered. As long as you pay people an hourly wage with as many uncontrolable factors effecting a carrier's ability to get done in 8 hrs, the choas will continue. Evaluated routes is the answer. The PMG is not smart enough to see this. I would laugh in the supervisor's face when I would get out 20 minutes late and he would tell me to make it up on the street. This was after the carrier next to me would tell him he would be over 1 hour and he would say nothing.


monaghan June 12, 2012 @ 8:15 p.m.

A few years ago there was a hilarious story from the other smaller less prosperous alternative weekly paper written by a postal worker (maybe a former postal worker) about his life on the job. Comments on this story are also funny and sound suspiciously like they come from letter carriers or their loyal family members. I remind you that Matt Potter is just the messenger here, describing the findings of over-zealous dweebs from the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General. Sig heil, auditors, with your six wasted minutes of productivity! Somebody is probably pushing this report to justify eliminating the Depression-era La Jolla Post office.


common_sense June 12, 2012 @ 8:42 p.m.

This is laughable. The organization that prides itself on the mantra of "process over results" and "one size fits all" has the temerity to believe that they're "efficiency experts"? What an oxymoron! The USPS should change its name to the DOA: (Dumbest Organization in America)

The problem(s) with the Postal Service has been, is, and will be; bad management. Where else can one with no degree, no social skills, no experience and no clue, make $70K/annum and actually believe they're worth it??? Puhleeze! Set up an account on Monster.com and see what you're really worth! These are the same geniuses that create bad employees by the mailbox full. Want to take a perfectly good job candidate and turn them into a pile of sh*t? The Postal Service can do that for you in no time flat. Yeah, that's just what the P.O. needs...more management. Inconceivable!


Feed_up June 13, 2012 @ 2:18 a.m.

You are so right common_sense, I served my country for 8 years as an Electronic Technician in the Air Force after being discharged I worked for the Postal Service for 19 Years of pure hell as a City Carrier and could not take the Bull Sh*t anymore I resigned in 2009, with me having 19 years of the Postal Service on my resume I might as well said I was in prison for 19 years It took me two years to find a new career, I did'nt have any problems health wise until I started working for the postal service, high blood pressure just to name one, but now blood pressure normal. I feel for my fellow carrier who can't make the transistion as I did, don't get me wrong It was hard but it can be done. Oh by the way my new job I make three times more than what I was making at the post office.


fritzy June 12, 2012 @ 9:37 p.m.

Seriously, 6 minutes of non-productive time in a day is probably better than most workers in America. Give me a break. These are humans, not robots.


ozseppo June 13, 2012 @ 7:03 a.m.

Ask your local carrier how wonderful moral is. Ask your local carrier if he remembers a 40 hour week. Ask your local carrier supervisor to show you their cell phone log. If these guys are my Big Brother, I'm obviously adopted.


enufisenuf June 13, 2012 @ 7:48 a.m.

What did you expect? The union defends them and their mantra is "go slow-more dough" so...why is this shocking?


common_sense June 13, 2012 @ 8:18 a.m.

You're right, the union does successfully represent individuals that the Postal Service should be allowed to jettison. But ask yourself this:

What is the key ingredient to a strong union? A hostile work environment.

And fortunately, the Postal Service doesn't discriminate. They think ALL their employees are crooks. Getting rid of the union won't fix the Postal Service. However, getting rid of the culture of distrust and eradicating the mindset of punitive action, towards one of motivation with incentive, would go A LONG way to fixing the organization and marginalizing the unions. Problem is, they keep promoting from within based on the perpetuation of organizational inertia. IOW, they don't want to change!


twobigpuppies June 13, 2012 @ 8:32 a.m.

you notice that when ever there is a problem management always seems to blame it on the workers. They never want to take the responsibly for the problems. Nope it is always the workers fault. Sure there are those who talk on the phone to much and there are those who do waste to much time,,, and if the managers were doing their jobs maybe some of that might stop or at least stop to some degree. OH BTW how many managers are on the phone to much and how much time do they waste each day? Maybe just a chance that the system is at fault. Maybe the people in charge telling you how to do things have no idea what you are talking about because they never walked and delivered mail a day in their life. But yet they know how to do it because the book says so . Management,,,,, its about time you stand up and take responsibility for your own faults.


RetiredDisableLettercarrier June 13, 2012 @ 3:19 p.m.

What a crock of crap propaganda from people that never performed hard labor a day in their life.


uspsrobot June 14, 2012 @ 6:09 p.m.

And people wonder why the PO is going under. Stupid shit like this is the answer. A bunch of used car salesman would do a better job of running the PO. I wonder how much the clowns filming these hard workers got paid for not touching a piece on that day. Keep killing craft keep killing the post office. It's sad real sad how bad it has gotten. Only gonna get worse.


SkyeShepard June 14, 2012 @ 9:59 p.m.

You know what? I was a route examiner for the USPS. If the management of the USPS was ridden like they try to ride the carriers, we would be able to recover about 6 or 7 hours of unproductive work! I even did training for supervisor "candidates," who ended up being more and more of the upper management's relatives and "friends" as the years went on. The last few classes of supervisor wanna-be's did more playing on their freaking cell phones and computers, then ever listening to the things I was trying to teach them. The carriers have a hard job and their routes are getting longer and longer because the mail is getting lighter and lighter (thus, more deliveries have to make up the time loss). Before it is all over, they will probably be on the street for 7.5 hours a day! Many of them have walking routes. I NEVER see management work as hard as the carriers do! There is always one or two management representatives (like me) who isn't related to anyone, or screwing anyone, so they do all the work while the others take all the credit and do nothing! This is how the USPS works and it's a sad, sad thing. Although I know there are carriers out there who play games and "fritter" around, most of the carriers are extremely hardworking individuals who probably work harder than anyone else in the post office! Why don't you get off their backs and look where the actual loss in productivity is?Supervisors and postmasters come and go as they please, work less than their 8 hours a day and pad their mileage reports with false mileage? Luckily, I worked in "the real world" for 20 years before I came to the USPS. I loved my job for a long time, I am now ashamed to say I work there. Patrick Donahoe, all the POOMS and District Managers and Area Vice Presidents have made it a shameful place to work.

Tell me this, how much time and money did they waste when we were doing full-blown route inspections in an office with over 60 routes and when we had just a few more routes to do, one day they just called us in the middle of the route inspection and said we weren't doing them anymore and to come back in? Nobody on the "outside" would ever believe all any of this! I will continue to say it, the management (and that means ALL OF THEM) are the ones who need to be studied and watched. But make sure you don't tell them you're doing it, because they'll put on a good front for you as if they actually work all the time. And by-the-way, don't just pick out the people that aren't "connected" to the higher ups, pick on them all. That would be the fair and right thing to do - and OMG! the potential savings would be EARTHSHATTERING!!!!!


USPSOIG June 19, 2012 @ 7:46 a.m.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General is currently conducting a review on similiar Mail Processing issues discussed in this article. We have established an Audit Project Page web site to provide an opportunity for our stakeholders and the public to comment on our projects. Web site visitors can register their comments related to our projects at http://auditprojects.uspsoig.gov. We will consider and use this information during the course of our work.


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