Postal Service:

Automation Is Restraining But Not Reducing Costs

GGD-92-58: Published: May 12, 1992. Publicly Released: May 12, 1992.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) automation program, focusing on: (1) automation's effect on postal costs; and (2) the prospect for future cost reductions.

GAO found that: (1) although it provides one of the best and most needed cost savings opportunities for USPS, automation is unlikely to be a panacea that will reverse the tendency for costs to outpace inflation; (2) in fiscal year 1991, USPS operating expenses were $295 million more than expected despite a decrease in career employment and additional automation; (3) the decrease in career employment was offset by increases in overtime and noncareer employees; (4) although USPS handled less mail in 1991 than it did in the previous year, it used more work hours; (5) the number of hours worked decreased in functions most directly affected by automation, but the 1-percent reduction over the previous year was only about about 65 percent of the planned amount due to an unexpected increase in work that directly supports mail distribution and a failure to capture savings in time spent by carriers preparing the mail for delivery; (6) overhead functions and work load subject to automation had increases that offset any savings; (7) work-hour savings are also being overwhelmed by annual increases in labor costs; (8) USPS audits of postal operations identified over $187 million in potential savings that were not captured due to inefficient personnel and equipment management in automation and related operations; and (9) the magnitude of management challenges compared to the work-year savings being captured by automation makes it unlikely that the automation program represents a breakthrough in changing the upward trend of overall postal costs.

Feb 3, 2021

Jan 29, 2021

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 13, 2021

Dec 16, 2020

Dec 9, 2020

Dec 3, 2020

Nov 30, 2020

Nov 24, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here