USPS Announces New Service Standards



On October 1, the Postal Service implemented new service standards for First-Class Mail and Periodicals. These new service standards increased delivery reliability, consistency, and efficiency for our customers and across our network.

Most First-Class Mail (61 percent) and Periodicals (93 percent) is unaffected by the new service standard changes. Standards for single-piece First-Class Mail traveling within a local area will continue to be two days.

The Postal Service has increased time‐in‐transit standards by 1 or 2 days for certain mail that is traveling longer distances. By doing so, the Postal Service can entrust its ground network to deliver more First-Class Mail, which leads to greater consistency, reliability, and efficiency that benefits its customers.What are service standards?

Service standards are a window of expected delivery times (a range of days) based on type of mail, where it is entered into the postal network, and when it is entered. The USPS uses two systems to measure when mail will arrive at various locations, based on letters/flats and packages. Not all mail gets delivered on time, but the USPS shoots for certain percentages and goals, which it calls its service performance targets. These targets are different for each type of mail piece.

Why are they changing?

In early 2021, the USPS proposed new standard changes for First-Class Mail and Packages, upping the limit from three days to five. In March of 2021, the USPS revealed a 10-year plan with service standard updates for First-Class Mail. Service standards are not reviewed on a regular schedule, they are only reviewed when issues or needs pop up. There is a set process and several approvals that are needed to review a service standard that goes through various USPS leadership.

What exactly is changing?

The change to First-Class mail moves it from flying to surface transportation, which increased the visibility of potential delays. 70% of this type of mail would still be on a 1-3 day standard, with 21% of it moving to 4-day and 10% to 5-day.  

How are service standards measured?

Service Performance is measured based on a variety of factors including distance, type of transportation, potential delays, and reliability of alternative transportation in the face of said delays. The USPS uses a Service Delivery Calculator that measures the Start-the-Clock to Stop-the-Clock for a mail piece.

The measurement system for mail is the Service Performance Measurement System. This takes samples of letters and flats and then measures the collection and delivery times of these samples. It is measured in three steps, First Mile, Processing Duration, and Last Mile. The First Mile is the time between the initial collection of the letter and when it is first processed at a facility. The Processing Duration is the time it takes to process the piece from one facility to the next. The Last Mile is when the processing ends and the piece is taken from a facility and delivered.

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