Mail collection boxes are practically as American as apple pie. They also seem to be disappearing as quickly as mom’s homemade apple pie.
Nationally, the number of collection boxes declined by more than 12,000 in the past 5 years. Some customers have complained the U.S. Postal Service has gone too far and removed too many collection boxes in neighborhoods. They’ve also questioned whether this effort is saving USPS money in the long run.
It’s a tough balancing act for the Postal Service. Some collection boxes are barely used and are expensive to maintain. On the other hand, mail collection boxes are a visible representation of the Postal Service to the American public, and their disappearance has been noted. They also are reliable, secure, and convenient receptacles for mail.
As part of its efforts to keep its collection infrastructure proportionate to customers’ needs at a reasonable cost, the Postal Service has eliminated underused collection boxes that on average receive fewer than 25 pieces a day; it has also added collection boxes where they are convenient for customers.
Our recent audit report looked at the Postal Service’s collection box removal process in the Eastern Area and found that it was not effective. While the area and its 10 districts have procedures for removing and relocating collection boxes, they were not consistently followed.
We recommended management require each district to periodically evaluate whether to relocate or remove underused collection boxes included in the annual density test that determines the average volume of mail collected. We also recommended the Postal Service maintain supporting documentation on its removal and relocation decisions, and establish a process to monitor out-of-service collection boxes.
How close is your nearest collection box? Do you have a collection box in your neighborhood? Do you use it regularly?