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First-Class Mail

Customers use First-Class Mail for bills, statements, payments, and correspondence. Single-piece First-Class Mail, generally used by consumers and small businesses, is entered into the mailstream in small quantities at Post Offices or collection boxes. Presort First-Class Mail is generally used by larger organizations and is entered in bulk at postal processing centers.

On-time performance for single-piece First-Class Mail is measured by combining data for letters and flat pieces from the External First-Class Mail Measurement System (EXFC). Single-piece First-Class Mail parcel performance is measured using origin and destination Delivery Confirmation scans. On-time performance scores are developed by comparing actual transit times against the service standard for each category — overnight, 2-days, and 3 to 5-days. EXFC is a rigorous external sampling system that since 1990 has measured transit time between deposit at a collection box or Post Office and delivery to a home or office. The performance of single-piece First-Class Mail has long been the most visible signal of service to consumers and commercial customers, and service and measurement have been refined over time. In 2009, EXFC expanded to 892 three-digit ZIP Codes, which represents virtually all single-piece First-Class Mail letter and flat volume.

In 2009 on-time performance fell slightly short of the target. Expansion of EXFC to additional ZIP Codes contributed to the shortfall, as performance in the new measured codes lagged slightly behind the overall average for the first part of the year until operational adjustments could be made. The additional EXFC measured ZIP Codes were also a factor in mail with a 2-day or 3-to 5-day standard failing to meet the 2009 target. Severe weather in the first quarter (October-December) affected service, especially mail with a 3 to 5-day standard that is most subject to transportation-related delays. The Postal Service established 2010 on-time performance targets for all single-piece First-Class Mail above the 2009 targets. Single-piece First-Class Mail parcels are also included in the targets in 2010.

First-Class Mail International uses external sampling to measure performance for domestic legs of inbound and outbound single-piece letters. It was moved to a unit goal in 2010, so is not included as the corporate goal.