Add “upkeep of postal facilities” to the list of tasks that get increasingly difficult to do under a budget crunch. Yet, Americans are passionate about their post offices, so it seems maintenance should be a priority.

However, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial challenges have made it hard to maintain facilities. During fiscal years 2009-2012, the Postal Service experienced a $382 million decrease in its budget for facility repairs, alterations, and capital improvements, resulting in incomplete repairs or unmet capital improvements. Our recent audit report found about half of the incomplete repairs represent safety or security issues and potential future major repairs. 

Future costs for these unfunded repairs could reach $1.4 billion. In addition, our work determined that some of these repairs were potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations.

The Postal Service operates 32,000 facilities throughout the country with 280 million square feet of space, and it includes post offices, mail processing facilities, and annexes. The Postal Service’s Facilities Department says employees and customers are not in danger, as it prioritizes repairs based on the safety and security of Postal Service property. Still, the Postal Service’s capital spending freeze initiated in 2009 has clearly had an impact on the ability to upgrade and repair facilities. The Postal Service spent 29 percent below the industry average on facility repairs in FY 2012. Lower priority repairs and improvements are less likely to occur, potentially leading to a longer-term cost.

Our audit found the Postal Service lacking in developing a strategy to complete all necessary repairs and it did not always accurately prioritize repairs. We recommended it develop a strategy, reallocate funds to complete repairs, and reconcile its prioritization list annually.

We welcome your thoughts.

How best can the Postal Service make the necessary repairs to its facilities while operating under budget constraints?
Will people be interested in buying or leasing Postal Service buildings that haven't been well maintained? Or could it affect the value of the properties?
Are there issues other than decreased funding that prevent the Postal Service from completing necessary repairs? 

Comments (9)

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  • anon

    I am submitting this comment on Sept. 6, 2016 I have lived in Jefferson County, Oregon for 9 years. We are a relatively small agricultural town in the high desert region of Central Oregon, pop. less than 8k, and our one and only Post Office is heading towards complete disrepair, especially the exterior. There are 2' high weeds growing at the curbs, completely dead turf/exposed soil in the "landscaped" area including mostly dead evergreens and deciduous tees. The exterior walls have faded & peeling paint. I understand there are severe budget cuts etc, etc. However, what would it take a group of private citizens partnering with local businesses contributing paint and landscape materials from organizing a few work parties to address this disaster? I am in the Jefferson County Chamber and would bring any positive USPS reply back to the board so that we could act upon it with community members and businesses. Thank You!

    Sep 06, 2016
  • anon

    The property surrounding the post office located at 15701 Sherman Way, Van Nuys,CA 91409 is extremely unkempt and is in dire need of proper maintenance. It is making the neighborhood appear as a ghetto.

    May 31, 2016
  • anon

    I live in Medina OH Our post office should be on a show like desperate landscapes. The building is old but at least have the landscape taken care of and the AWFUL parking lot full of pot holes repaired. Please give it some loving care!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2016
  • anon

    I I'm reluctant to to give by name. Just because Wadsworth is a small community... I was shocked, when I walked in to the postal facility in Wadsworth 89442.... There was dust, dirt and grime under the ledges of all of the boxes.. there was dust and settled dirt along the bottom of all the walls, which indicated to me that the floor hadn't been mopped in months. Finally, there was litter and leaves on the floor. I believe this is a contract situation with the people running the facility. I am Not sure. But it would take 2 hours a week or less to keepyour facility up to some kind of reasonable standard.........

    Dec 18, 2015
  • anon

    I would be hard pressed to say that the buildings affluent neighborhoods, Beverly Hills, etc are taken care of very well. It's probably not said that buildings in less affluent neighborhoods tend to go down hill faster and no one cares because that's the standard they are used to and is very unfortunate. Middle America is now fighting with it's own to maintain a decent standard that should already be in place. The managers are to inspect at least twice a year to determine repairs internally and externally and work with a budget. I realize budgets are cut, but there has to be a unified solution. Myself, as well as others in my neighborhood don't appreciate the rust on showing thru corner beading, mold and dirt on the building, cracks and building repairs needed, and probably the roof too. This is just the structure. The grounds need major attention. Overgrown bougainvillea which at this point is now problematic. If you're not going to maintain the bushes, pay someone to take them out and be done with it. At least grass can be mowed more easily. I don't want to see our Post office go down hill. Once it starts to slide, then it starts to be visually the norm which represents disrepair and non maintenance. Homes in Hawaii kai are not cheap. Millions of dollars of value. This post office is not leased or rented but owned. So as owner custodians, pls take care of it. Kailua Post office just repainted. I saw it with my own eyes and almost fell over. Why isn't our p.o. being addressed I wondered. I know you folks are having a tough time, and I can point fingers, but that does not good. What can you do to help this situation, and go further, what can the community do to help you? As a side note, I have seen some grass and bush cutting, but like i said, it's way out of control. Take out the bougainvillea in the parking lots and just have grass.

    Dec 08, 2015
  • anon

    This problem should have been addressed before facilities were shut down or hours were decreased while others in dire need of repair were left open. I live in near a community where this happened. One fully incorporated town, with the largest school in the county, a police force, many businesses and a post office in great condition was deemed to be only useful for 4 hrs per day simply because its residents were being served by "addresses" from three other towns, the closest 3 miles away--in a building that it is leased and falling down. Now must the residents be subjected to a 4 hr post office but the postal service must maintain the same level of maintenance on this building AND pay the lease on the building that is such a state of disrepair 3 miles away. And yes, a public forum was held. 100% in attendance wanted the reverse, move the carriers to a nice, warm building and shutter the other where there are no businesses, no schools, nothing but falling ceiling tiles. But the Postal Service manager in charge of the meeting said, and was quoted in the local newspaper, "The decision has already been made.", and further stated that the opinion cards that were mailed were only a "formality." He also assured those in attendance that a truck driver had been given a key to collect the outgoing mail so they could still deposit mail into the collection box at the same time. As a former employee with the knowledge, skills, and expertise I offered to realign the routes (for free) to leave the office they travel by several times per day anyway. It would have actually the Postal Service money. But instead they close a perfectly good office, disappoint customers, and continue to pay a lease on a building that is literally falling down. This is only one. E mail me. I know of more.

    Jan 27, 2014
  • anon

    Get rid of the use it or loose it concept. 10 percent across the board cuts in building maintaince. Let facilities keep what they receive and combine funding with new fiscal year on big projects. If emergency funds are needed. Area managers should do the approval process.

    Jan 22, 2014
  • anon

    Hi i have problem need to a just help me processing talk back thank

    Jan 21, 2014
  • anon

    There will certainly be a decrease in value of the postal properties. I bought a house for about 30K under the going rate in my neighborhood because the previous owner did not properly maintain it. The post office needs to utilize the staff it has to make immediate repairs when needed, not put it off because the lobby needs to be waxed. The prioritization needs to be more on safety & less on looks. As to the other issues, probably, with Issa running his mouth and scaring people. We also need to look at the makeup of the Board of Governors. How many of them have worked as a wage earner, rather than an executive? Working conditions at the PO have never been stellar, and it sounds as though they are getting worse.

    Jan 20, 2014

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