Chapter 2 Postal Operations

F. Delivery Unit Operations

Delivery operations is the Postal Service’s single largest cost center, accounting for 43% of all expenses. Approximately 1.8 million new delivery points are added to the network each year. Table 2-3 shows the number of delivery points at the close of 2006. A number of strategies and programs to control growth in delivery costs are described in the following sections.

Table 2-3
Total Number of Delivery Points — 2006
Post Office Box Service20,105,846
Highway Contract Route2,410,317

1. Delivery Point Sequencing


Delivery point sequencing is the automated arrangement of mail in the order that deliveries are made by the carrier. Today, 80% of letters are distributed to delivery routes in delivery point sequence. The objective is to increase this amount to 95% by 2010 and also to aggressively pursue the sequencing of flat mail. More than 13,000 delivery units receive letter mail in delivery point sequence. These units account for more than 86.3% of all city routes and 82.2% of all rural routes.


Flat mail is currently sorted on automation only to the ZIP Code and carrier route levels. This mail must then be sorted manually into delivery order by the carrier prior to beginning deliveries. Development of a Flats Sequencing System (FSS) to automate sequencing of flat mail is underway. FSS deployment will significantly reduce the labor intensive manual sequencing process for high volume, flat mail zones and routes. Unlike letter mail, which is fairly uniform in size and address location, today’s flat mail has a highly variable address placement. A more standardized address placement is necessary to support the technology for sorting and for optimal carrier work practices.

During 2006 a prototype FSS was tested at the Indianapolis Mail Processing Annex and demonstrated a 98.7% average accuracy rate. The prototype system included such advanced mail handling technologies as automatic feeding, sweeping, and container loading. Based upon the anticipated savings potential for this technology, the Postal Service also began a pre-production acquisition program. The pre-production FSS will be deployed about 1 year before production machines and will be used to design detailed operational methods and determine logistics support requirements. An in-plant test of the pre-production system is expected in April 2007, with deployment to the mail processing facility in Dulles, Virginia, by the fall of that year. Production equipment deployment is anticipated to begin late in calendar year 2008.

2. Carrier Pickup

Traditionally, carriers have always accepted prepaid outgoing mail customers give to them or leave for them. Customers would often leave notes on or near the mailbox or would raise the signal flag on their mailbox to alert the carriers of outgoing mail. Even without notice, carriers collect mail that customers place adjacent to, in, or on private mail receptacles while making delivery. Today, through the Customer Pickup program, customers can also use the telephone or a computer to leave an advance notice for when mail is available for the carrier to pickup. The volume of Carrier Pickup mail grew more than 89% as more customers have become aware of the convenience of using Click-N-Ship and online postage.

3. Carrier Optimal Routing

Carrier Optimal Routing (COR) is a carrier routing and travel optimization program used to configure compact, contiguous, and safe city carrier routes. It also uses actual mail volume data to create efficient travel paths while reducing park points and relays. COR was successfully utilized in over 100 city carrier zones during the 2006 route adjustments. COR is compatible with the Delivery Operations Information System (DOIS) and receives delivery and route adjustment files directly from DOIS. Numerous performance clusters across the country currently use COR. The Postal Service plans to expand the use of COR to include a module for Rural and Contract Delivery Service routes in 2007. COR Version 1.5, which includes COR for minor route adjustments and other important enhancements, was released in November 2006.

4. Electronic Publication Watch System

The electronic Publication Watch (ePUBWATCH) application is a Web-based tracking tool and resolution system for Periodicals. This tool continues to be a vital communication platform for publishers and subscribers. Registered publishers can enter a subscriber’s deliveryrelated complaint and request an electronic publication watch. Publishers also receive assistance from one of the area or district periodicals service improvement coordinators. In the fifth year of operation, the number of registered publishers has continued to increase.

5. ADVANCE Notification and Tracking System

The ADVANCE Notification and Tracking System (ADVANCE) is a Web-based application that supports the delivery and tracking of qualified Periodicals and Standard Mail with specific in-home delivery dates. Delivery units receive advance notification of a mailing and must report when the mail arrives, when delivery begins, and when delivery is completed. ADVANCE notification of time-sensitive mailings gives delivery units the opportunity to make any adjustments necessary to meet customer needs. ADVANCE provides delivery performance reports to postal management and mailers to ensure mailing requirements are met. Customers tracked approximately seven million mailpieces using ADVANCE, which represents more than a 6% increase compared to 2005.

6. Mail Security

In 2006 President Bush signed an executive order creating the nation’s first ever Identity Theft Task Force. The Postal Service is a major participant in this forum, which strengthens efforts to protect the financial information of American citizens. This Task Force oversees the implementation