USPS and the Next Gen Vehicle | Citizens Against Government Waste

USPS and the Next Gen Vehicle

The WasteWatcher

The United States Postal Service isn’t known for its whiz-kid, early adoption of shape-shifting technology innovations.  While the private sector has been screaming along, birthing cutting-edge, disruptive technologies in the communications, transportation, and logistics sector, the USPS has remained mired in its top-heavy, sclerotic, analog, bricks-and-mortar past.

For example, the USPS has been preparing to procure its next generation delivery fleet and in typically 20th century management fashion, has chosen the most expensive, least flexible path.  1987 was the last year that the agency purchased vehicles, which were supposed to “last a lifetime.”  As if.  Those Grumman Long Life Vehicles (LLVs), have, surprise, outlived their usefulness.  So,   

On October 10, 2105, “the USPS issued a request for proposal (RFP) for prototypes of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) to 15 pre-qualified manufacturers to compete for the contract.  The RFP requires six prototype vehicles with a specific set of requirements, such as room to stand in the rear of the vehicle.  USPS expects to spend $6.3 billion on the contract and have the new fleet of 180,000 vehicles operating by 2018.  According to a September 28, 2015 report by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), “USPS Fleet Procurement for the 21st Century,” the USPS travelling the same rutted road it did in 1987.  The report made the case for a fleet of “off-the-shelf” vehicles.  By driving commercially available vehicles similar to those used by companies like UPS and FedEx, USPS could save $1.9 billion over the next 25 years as a result of lower maintenance costs and higher fuel efficiency than custom vehicles, assuming the vehicles are purchased for $30,000 each.  These savings would be bolstered by the use of a mixed fleet.  The needs of a postal carrier driving in Manhattan are likely much different than those of his or her counterpart driving in Alaska, but all carriers have been using the same vehicles since 1987.  A mixed fleet allows for smaller, more efficient vehicles to be used in urban areas while also having vehicles with greater terrain capabilities for more suburban or rural areas.”

And consider this

Walmart is testing a grocery delivery service that would allow shoppers to order items online and have them delivered to their door through Uber or Lyft, the company announced Friday ahead of its annual shareholders meeting.

Those who buy groceries through the program would pay a $7-$10 delivery charge to Walmart. After placing an order, Walmart associates would compile the items and request an Uber or Lyft to transport the groceries to the customer’s location. Walmart will be testing this program with Uber in Phoenix and with Lyft in Denver, Bloomberg reports.”
 

It used to be an article of faith that, in the rapidly changing world of private-sector delivery and logistics, perhaps the only portion of the USPS’s business model that was unassailable was it last-mile delivery mandate, the fact that it was required to visit every mailing address in the country six days a week.  While the USPS was, in fact, shifting many of its tasks to private contractors, who could do the job or sorting, tansprting and even some delivery, more efficently and less expensively, it was an often repeated mantra that the USPS was the only entity that was capable of handling delivery down to the house to house level, that it wouldn’t be profitable for any private-sector business.  

Perhaps even that leg of the supply chain is now vulnerable to the incursion of disruptive and efficient technologies of the future and entrepreneurs who are figuring out how to make home delivery of everything from parcels to letter mail to groceries timely and financially viable...even to the last mile and to your door.    

In any case, the choice of vehicles for the USPS ought to be reviewed and thought out carefully, lest that decision cost the fiscally challenged agency even more money and push it even further behind the tech curve.       

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