The USPS kept the mail moving during the early stages of the pandemic. That’s the finding of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), which announced the findings of an audit on Monday.
The OIG said that in late winter of 2020, many people began working from home due to the pandemic, but the mail had to keep moving – “critical items such as medications, stimulus payments, and Social Security checks became even more important.”
While the early stages of the pandemic saw higher package volumes and increased employee absenteeism, “Postal Service management modified normal mail processing, customer service, and delivery operations well enough to mitigate the impact of the pandemic during the early stages.”
Some of the things the USPS did right:
- it generally coordinated and communicated regularly with commercial mail customers, conducting weekly meetings to inform the industry of any operational changes that impacted mailer operations;
- management launched a COVID-19 Response Email Campaign reassuring commercial customers of minimal disruption.
However, it did find some things the USPS could have done or formulated better, “such as the process for alerting delivery units of late arrivals from mail processing and distribution centers.”
The Inspector General also identified opportunities to improve the process for prioritizing the delivery of postal products for medical purposes and to enhance the employee availability dashboard by including rural carriers.
Overall, however, the OIG wrote, “The good news is while mail may have been slowed during the onset of the pandemic, it did indeed keep moving – and fairly well, all things considered.”
But there were more challenges for the postal service in 2020 that came later, including the election and the holiday-shopping season.
The USPS OIG wrote, “We are continuing our work on service issues in certain harder hit areas and throughout the incredibly busy holiday mailing season. Additionally, in separate audit products we have analyzed or are reviewing impacts of operational changes and the performance of the Postal Service surrounding the election.”
In Monday’s post, the OIG did not address the controversies around actions taken by Louis DeJoy, who became Postmaster General in June, that many believe contributed to mail delays.
You can read the full post on the USPSOIG.gov website.