Strong consumer demand for goods purchased over the Internet has driven growth in the package market despite otherwise declining mail volume. This growing package segment provides the U.S. Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue.
With this growth, city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCAs) are now delivering more packages and fewer letters to more addresses each year. To accommodate these changes, the Postal Service must adapt to this changing mail mix while maintaining service and efficiency.
This audit responds to concerns raised about mail service in selected post offices in Atlanta, GA. Customers complained of mail delivery only four or five times a week and mail delivery being inconsistent, sporadic, and extremely late. The Atlanta District has 111 delivery units and 1,814 delivery routes. Our analysis of key city delivery performance indicators including carriers returning after 7 p.m., mail volume, overtime hours, and customer complaint data identified 16 delivery units with poor performance. Our objective was to evaluate mail delivery delays in selected delivery units in the Atlanta District.
What the OIG Found
Mail was not always delivered timely in the 16 selected delivery units. Our analysis of city delivery operations and customer service data in these 16 offices identified:
- None of the 16 units achieved their goal of distributing mail to carrier routes by 8:30 a.m., known as the Distribution-Up-Time (DUT), for the 30-day periodwe reviewed.
- Over 70 percent of letter carriers returned to these units by 7 p.m. and after, some returning as late as 10 p.m., in fiscal year (FY) 2017.
These conditions occurred because:
- Supervisors did not always use available tools to report operational and mail flow issues impacting city delivery morning office operations.
- Supervisors did not always use the Regional Intelligent Mail Server (RIMS) and the Delivery Management System (DMS) to monitor carrier route performance during street delivery.
- Management did not adjust 481 of 533 (90 percent) routes at 13 units. Package volume increased an average of 32 percent since July 2011. Specifically, one unit had package volume increases as high as 170 percent during FY 2017.
We also determined these 16 units did not adequately address customer complaints. We identified 1,460 re-opened Enterprise Customer Care (eCC) complaint cases, indicating customers were not satisfied with the resolution at these 16 units. Further, 4,502 cases were not resolved within the Postal Service’s established timeframes of one-to-three days. This condition occurred because management did not follow the customer complaint resolution policy.
As a result, we estimated the Atlanta District incurred $11 million in questioned costs for unauthorized overtime and penalty overtime, and $154,468 in costs for the processing of re-opened customer complaints for FY 2017.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Direct supervisors to use operational and reporting tools to effectively monitor mail flow issues during morning office operations.
- Review route adjustment requirements and develop a plan to prioritize and update routes, as appropriate, to meet current delivery requirements through the Route Count and Inspection process.
- Re-emphasize to unit management the requirement to follow Postal Service policy to maintain a customer complaint log to manage and resolve customer complaints.