In the last several months we’ve seen a lot of post offices suspend operations due to extreme weather. But natural disasters aren’t the only reason for emergency suspensions.

U.S. Postal Service district managers may also suspend the operations of any post office, station, or branch under its jurisdiction for:

  • Termination of a lease or rental agreement;
  • Lack of qualified personnel to operate the office;
  • Irreparable damage with no suitable alternate quarters available;
  • Severe damage to, or destruction of an office;
  • Challenge to the sanctity of the mail; and
  • Lack of adequate measures to safeguard the office or its revenue.

Phew, that’s a lot of reasons. So, it makes sense that district managers follow established policies and procedures. Our latest audit report indicates the Eastern Area fell short in that regard. Notably, district personnel did not consistently comply with policies and procedures to ensure suspension decisions had an independent review, customers were appropriately notified, required approvals were obtained, or action plans were developed.

We reviewed the Eastern Area because it had 94 emergency suspensions in fiscal year 2017, or 28 percent of the total 331 nationwide — the most of any area.

Our report also noted that policies and procedures need to be improved so that district personnel can approve and resolve suspensions in a timely manner. The procedures should also include communication requirements, such as informing the public of suspension status throughout the process. We recommended the Postal Service develop standard operating procedures that are more comprehensive regarding roles and responsibilities, deliverables, monitoring, and communication protocols.

If you’ve experienced a post office suspension in your area, what procedural improvements would you like to see?

Comments (6)

  • anon

    What happened to: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds?

    Oct 22, 2018
  • anon

    That phrase is from an old poem. It is not and never had been the motto of the United States Postal Service.

    Oct 27, 2018
  • anon

    This is laughable. In the South Jersey district they give "non essential personnel" off,i.e., managers in the district office, but tell the Supervisors and more importantly the carriers that they must report. My two take aways is that a. The supervisory personnel deems themselves "non essential" LOL, and b. the conditions are too dangerous for them to drive to work and sit in a cubical but not too dangerous for carriers to drive to work and then spend the whole day driving around in the worst possible vehicles for driving in the snow (LLV's and FFV's)

    Oct 10, 2018
  • anon

    I have questions about my packer.this my packeg is from Nairobi Kenya posta to USA

    Oct 09, 2018
  • anon

    Perhaps the protocols need tweaked at the 'at risk' post offices. Why not have in place transport to and from USPS to a trusted pool of safety professionals (emergency responders, fire dept, EMS, ambulances and local tow trucks) to get USPS employees safely to their workplace destination and return them home, even if it is a shortened day. Someone's lifesaving medication can be in the USPS office and the propfessional community has the equipment and the skills to safely transport USPS employees to and from work in an emergency situation.

    Oct 09, 2018
  • anon

    If a post office is closed for weather related events and your suggestion is to have first responders bring the postal workers to and from work. How do you suggest that the trucks that bring the mail from the plants get to the offices in question? Also once the postal workers are at work how do you suggest they deliver the mail and packages if there's say 3 feet of water on the ground? You think it's more important that the first responders waste their time and resources on having the postal workers go to work in a natural disaster then to save people who are trapped? Wow talk about being selfish and not caring about anyone but yourself. By your logic the postal workers should risk their lives because you might need a medicine that may or may not even be there due to the weather. It's funny because I bet during a weather-related event you don't have to go to work.

    Oct 11, 2018

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