The U.S. Postal Service has one of the largest federal property portfolios in government. And with good reason. Its facilities support the delivery of mail to over 157 million delivery points.
One of USPS’s major responsibilities is to ensure these facilities are as safe as they can be, to protect the mail, the employees who work there, and the customers who visit every day. To meet these goals, the Postal Service relies on its managers and the Postal Inspection Service.
The Inspection Service is one of two law enforcement agencies within the Postal Service and it focuses on external crimes, mail frauds, and security issues involving postal employees and facilities. As part of this last responsibility, the Inspection Service oversees facility security and provides security training and guidance to Postal Service security employees. Among the facilities covered are Network Distribution Centers (NDCs), highly automated mail processing plants that distribute Standard Mail and provide Package Services.
Our recent audit report assessed security at 11 of the 21 NDCs. We found the Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service security officials did not always address, in a timely manner, security deficiencies identified during assessments using the Vulnerability Risk Assessment Tool (VRAT) — an application employees use to identify security risks and vulnerabilities at facilities. Deficiencies included obstructed, damaged, or inoperable gates, fences, doors, locks, and closed circuit television systems.
We recommended management establish standard operating procedures — with timeframes — to address, monitor, and communicate identified security deficiencies. We also recommended the Postal Service establish an oversight mechanism to promote accountability and ensure compliance with VRAT requirements.
Are there other ways to improve security at postal facilities?