The following article is pure conjecture. It is based on two recent mailings made June 12, 2014 that were tracked using IMB Tracing. The conclusions are mine. I'm sure postal management will disagree.

I love IMB Tracing. It is a fantastic tool. Every letter-sized mailpiece should be tracked by MSPs!

Until recently, local Cincinnati, Ohio mailings were taking three to four days until first scan. Beginning the end of April through all of May, first scans started coming within two to three days, with everything delivered in six. It didn't matter when I entered the mail; Monday, Thursday or Friday. This was great service!

Our scan ratios generally run near 100%, except when the delivery unit is a small office that does not receive postal sequenced mail. The exception to this scan rate is a customer whose mail is delivered out of the Columbus, Ohio SCF. When we send a 35,000 piece walk sequenced mailing to Columbus for delivery, we average between 5,000 to 7,500 pieces that are not scanned. It is a tough customer phone call to have when a significant number of pieces go missing. The question always asked, with emphasis provided by customers, "did you mail my entire list?!"

This brings us to my two recent mailings. Both were approximately 1,000 pieces. Both were under three ounces and in a #10 envelope. Both were barcoded and tracked. Both were entered on Thursday, June 12 at the Cincinnati NDC. One mailing was entirely for distribution by the Columbus SCF, the other was a nationwide mailing with 80% of the recipients spread throughout Ohio. These the the mail dropped them, Monday, Thursday or a Friday. can jobs were entered as two separate Standard mailings.

I received the first scan on the national mailing on the 17th of June, five days after being entered. I have not received any scans for the Columbus mailing as of this writing on the 28. On June 20, I had my BSN start looking for the Columbus job; unfortunately, none of the delivery units remembered it. I assume it has been delivered. It took 12 days for the national mailing to reach 100% scanned, at which point 10% of the mail was still undelivered.
Something obviously went wrong with these two mailings.

Was it Load Leveling? I entered both mailings at the NDC on a Thursday. According to a Power Point on RIBBS, the only mail supposed to be affected by load leveling was mail dropped by customers at the SCF on Friday. What I am now being told is that if I want to enter mail at the NDC and get Monday delivery, I need to drop my mail a day earlier. Contrary to the propaganda from headquarters, load leveling affects all mail!

No scans? The fact that my mail took five days before being put on a machine is a much bigger problem for me than a one day load leveling delay. It is obvious that this mail sat someplace un-scanned until someone got around to processing it. But why? How can I go from two days to first scan, to five days for one job and never for the Columbus job? The longer mail sits un-scanned, the more likely it is that it will never be scanned.

No Pallet Placards? Due to the small size of these mailings, there were no pallet placards. No placards, no tracking by postal management in Washington. No tracking, no accountability, no worries. Trays of mail that I enter at the NDC are combined with other trays destined for the Cincinnati SCF. Since my mail did not receive scans for five days from NDC entry, there would have been other Cincinnati SCF trays from around the country also delayed. By being delayed five days by the Cincinnati processing plant, some of this other mail more than likely missed its 10-day delivery standard.

Postal management is putting tremendous pressure on everyone downstream to increase productivity by using data generated from Full Service. This creates a tension within postal operations in that mail that is not being tracked by upper management becomes lower valued mail and subject to delay. Mail in this category is mail that is not part of a customer placarded 3-digit or 5-digit pallet. Three-digit and 5-digit pallets are moved as a unit to the SCF. Un-placarded mail, such as my two jobs, is combined with trays of mail from pallets of mixed SCF destinations. These trays have no pallet identity when distributed by the NDCs to SCFs.
Currently, no pallet identity means no accountability.

Load leveling has become an excuse to put off processing. "It came in on Friday from the NDC, therefore we don't have to touch it till Monday." In Cincinnati, this Friday mail had typically been scanned Saturday or Sunday. The old delivery standard was three days delivery from the SCF, ten days within the continental USA from acceptance. If my national job (all 12 trays) were mis-sorted to the Cincinnati SCF on Friday, and these trays were then load leveled as a Monday arrival, the SCF would still hit their (load leveled) three day standard by processing the mail with an out-for-delivery scan transmitted by Wednesday. Unfortunately a mis-sort and a load leveled delay in processing explain why more than 50% of my mailing missed the 10-day standard. But trays and pieces are not tracked by Washington therefore no foul, no harm, no consequence for the processing unit.

So what happened to the Columbus mailing? We know that Columbus consistently allows letter mail to by-pass automated processing and is sent directly to their carriers. Either my mail by-passed processing or it was thrown away. No one can/will tell me which.

Another question one might ask is: why put a delayed mailing on a machine that would tell the world you missed your deadline? Un-scanned mail cannot be seen by anyone! I believe as we move forward more and more mail that has been delayed will by-pass automated processing. If it cannot be seen, individuals cannot be held accountable.