USPS OIG – Global Positioning System for Highway Contract Routes

Objective

Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s management of Highway Contract Route (HCR) compliance with the Global Positioning System (GPS) program.

In June 2016, the Postal Service developed the Enterprise Transportation Analytics (ETA) system which uses GPS technology to provide near real-time visualizations and reports of HCR vehicles and thus enabling management to evaluate HCR compliance with contract requirements. The Postal Service also replaced its existing GPS program with a new GPS technology solution covering HCRs, Postal Vehicle Service, and leased trailers.

The Postal Service planned to use the GPS program to measure HCR trailer usage, provide location visibility, estimate time of arrival, optimize travel routes, and improve service.

As of January 2020, the Postal Service managed 12,279 HCRs, which include 4,841 transportation routes and 7,438 Contract Delivery Service routes.

The Postal Service’s goal was to have GPS devices installed and active on HCR vehicles covering trailers, mail carrying compartments on trailers, straight body or box trucks, and vans (over 600 cubic feet) by July 31, 2017.

Findings

The Postal Service did not effectively manage HCR compliance with the GPS program. Specifically, GPS information in transportation systems is not routinely updated and consistently maintained for HCRs.

These issues occurred because management did not provide adequate guidance, training, and oversight over the GPS program. Specifically, the Management Instruction for the HCR GPS program has not been updated since May 3, 2013, to reflect current program requirements. In addition, management did not provide guidelines and training on recording and itemizing program costs and maintaining accurate records. Management also did not provide adequate oversight of the GPS data or the timely activation of GPS devices.

Our survey of Postal Service transportation personnel and HCR suppliers also identified the need for improvement in the areas of roles and responsibilities, training, and communication with suppliers.

As a result, the Postal Service did not have an accurate count of the HCR transportation routes requiring GPS or the number of vehicles used on the routes, which prevents it from achieving its goal of having complete visibility of these routes. Further, the Postal Service is unable to accurately determine GPS program costs. We estimated the Postal Service incurred questioned costs and funds put to better use of about $593,000 annually.

As a result of our audit, the Postal Service began a new national HCR Trailer Validation initiative on June 25, 2020, requiring field transportation personnel to review, validate, and update SV barcodes and vehicle information. The target completion date is August 14, 2020.

Recommendations

We recommended management:

  • Update the Highway Contract Routes Global Positioning System management instruction with the current program requirements, roles, and responsibilities; define allowable costs; and communicate the updated management instruction to employees.
  • Develop and execute a plan to ensure the accuracy GPS data and update and maintain accurate system records of vehicle quantity and type used for HCRs.
  • Monitor and enforce timely activation of GPS devices purchased by HCR suppliers.
  • Develop guidelines and provide training to contracting personnel for updating the GPS indicator and for recording, itemizing, and monitoring program costs, including validating the payment of prior program costs.
  • Develop alerts and exception reports to monitor compliance with the GPS program.

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