Study of a U.S. Postal Service Facility's Contract Routes

GGD-76-84: Published: Apr 30, 1976. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1976.

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GAO was requested to examine a third-party study which maintained that the U.S. Postal Service could save millions of dollars annually on contracted mail delivery services by using computer-designed vehicle routes and schedules. Although the Postal Service was unaware of the third-party study, it is currently testing a program virtually identical in concept in that both propose using computer assistance. Since the third-party study has paralleled the work of the Postal Service, GAO reviewed the Postal Service's Automated Vehicle Scheduling program and the Star Route Simulator program, the two major efforts which the Postal Service has underway.

In its review, GAO found that the Automated Vehicle Scheduling system consists of computerized programs used in the design of schedules for vehicles in the intra-city transport of mail. This system uses basically the same kind of data that an experienced vehicle operations manager would use to construct schedules manually; however, using the computer provides for a more timely evaluation of many different factors than would be possible using manual methods. The Star Route Simulator was developed by the Postal Service to help transportation analysts achieve more efficient star routes and to help the analyst consider and test more transportation route structures than could readily be performed manually. Although a preliminary analysis of both systems raised questions about some pertinent factors, such as total data collection costs and the impact star route changes would have on various postal programs which affect mail flow, GAO believes that computer assistance is proving to be a valuable tool in Postal Service efforts to optimize star route scheduling and service. However, GAO believes that the full impact that computerized star routing will have on costs cannot be determined at this time.

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