USPS OIG: Improving Visibility

May 14, 2018

Surface Visibility (SV) may sound like a nautical or even aeronautical term, but to the U.S. Postal Service it refers to multiple systems integrated to scan and track mail transported within the postal network. In fact, if you’ve ever used USPS Tracking to find where a package is, SV scanning has helped provide the answer.

SV helps improve postal transportation by scanning different items such as mail containers and packages at various points in their journey. For instance, scanning incoming mail on the loading dock of a USPS processing and distribution center (P&DC) allows for advance notification of the volume of entering mail. For departing mail, scanning provides accurate information for planning purposes at downstream facilities.

The Postal Service’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 national scan-compliance goal is 94 percent. As of February 2, 2018, the reported rate was 90 percent. Individually, however, scan-compliance rates can vary significantly among some P&DCs.

To identify best practices that could improve scanning compliance, we recently looked at two high-performing sites and two low-performing sites in the Capital Metro Area based on their respective FY 2017 compliance rates. The Greensboro and Norfolk P&DCs reported average scan-compliance rates of 93 percent, and the Northern Virginia and Peachtree P&DCs reported 80 percent.

Management at the high-performing sites – Norfolk and Greensboro – reviewed daily scan data to identify problem areas, conducted spot checks of those areas to correct issues, and ensured scans were conducted. Additionally, supervisors discussed any problem areas with individual employees and during stand-up talks. These measures formed the basis of our recommendation on implementing best practices.

Problems at the low-performing sites included our finding that 23 scanners at the Northern Virginia P&DC and 20 scanners at the Peachtree P&DC could not be located, and none of them had connected to the SV network in the 30 days prior to our visits. At all four sites, we observed that about 48 percent of selected incoming mail containers and about 12 percent of selected outgoing mail containers did not have barcoded placards for scanning.

As a postal employee, what ideas do you have to improve scanning and SV?


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Hey – OIG: Just to let you know your scanners are a piece of shit. To improve anything it has to work properly first. Two times last week my scanner went completely out of control. Could not scan anything while out on the route, could not reboot or anything else. More time wasted writing done parcels numbers on paper to bring back for the clerks to type in the computer. Bend over, I’ll show you how your scanners improve service.

teresa clark

rrr your right the scanners screw up won’t scan and batteries die prematurely. Instead of writing them down if you will take a good pic of bar code you can go back in and just scan the pics of barcodes with another scanner. lot faster on route and in office. One problem i’ve seen is there is toooo many bar codes on the packages. one on the box one for postage one for address one from ups/fedex or whoever and our bar code I counted 7 bar codes on a pkg. If your in a hurry (imagine that) you can… Read more »


Thank you for the information – I like the picture idea
They don’t make it easy sometimes

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