If it seems like some people have chronic mail delivery problems while others do not, a new report explains why that may be the case. The US Postal Service Inspector General (OIG) conducted an audit of 16 postal delivery units in the Richmond District where customers complained their mail was not delivered, was tampered with, was damaged, or was mis-delivered.
Not surprising, given the complaints, the OIG found poor performance in its audit of the 16 units, which it conducted from August 2018 through April 2019. In the report, the US Postal Service Inspector General attributed some of the problem to the changing mail mix that sees carriers with more packages and fewer letters to more addresses. But that doesn't explain why some units had poor performance compared to other units.
The most glaring problem could be due to the following finding from the report: "None of the 16 units achieved their goal of distributing mail to carrier routes after arrival from the processing center by 8:30 a.m., known as the Distribution-Up-Time (DUT), during September 2018."
Specifically: "Our analysis identified that the DUT late scan times ranged from 30 minutes up to two hours."
Why was that the case? The OIG continued, "During our observations, we noted that all 16 units received mail from the processing center late, incorrectly prepared, and required additional preparation time by the delivery unit staff."
That might explain another of the OIG's findings: "More than 18 percent of city carriers returned to their units after 7 p.m. and as late as 10 p.m. in fiscal year 2018, well short of the Postal Service's goal of 95 percent of city letter carriers returning from street operations before 5 p.m., and 100 percent by 6:00 p.m."
One of the OIG's three recommendations to the district: "We recommend the Manager, Richmond District, direct supervisors to communicate expectations to carriers and utilize operational and reporting tools to monitor delivery operations."
There are indications in the report that these units are not running a tight ship, but there's not enough information to judge carriers' performance (as opposed to supervisors, for example). The OIG offered no advice on what to do about what seemed to be a primary culprit leading to the late-delivery problems: receiving mail from the processing center late and incorrectly prepared. It would be fascinating to know if the other 58 units in the Richmond District also had problems stemming from the processing centers and, if so, how they dealt with it.
Given the fact that the 16 units under audit had reports of chronic delivery problems, it isn't surprising that the report also found customer complaints were not resolved in a timely fashion (how could they keep up with all the complaints?). The OIG recommended that the Manager of the Richmond District direct supervisors "to follow customer service policies and procedures to maintain a customer complaint log and resolve customer complaints timely and with customer satisfaction."
The OIG highlighted the report and its findings on its blog
, and you can review the full report on the USPSOIG.gov website (PDF file
), which includes the response from management in Appendix C.
The report gives a taste of some of the delivery problems at some post offices, but it leaves us hungry for more details about the causes - and how other locations handle those challenges more effectively.