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.

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Comments (6)

  • anon

    It starts with the P&DC's, if the mail can't get out on time then how can the carriers deliver on time.

    Jul 24, 2018
  • anon

    Once again OIG had the opportunity to come out with a great audit report. You had it in your grasp and let it slip away. You were to find out why there were delivery delays. You had the reasons stare you in the face. You acknowledge them. Then you wandered off into the clouds and started playing with all sorts of programs and came out with a totally worthless report. Your audit was generated because of delivery problems...."Delivery Problems"...Not supervisors reporting in programs. Page 1. Mail was not always delivered timely to 16 delivey units..Page 5. DUT ( actually getting product to carriers so they could get out the door) ranged from 30 minutes to 2 hours and the delay was caused by late mail getting to delivery units. Call me stupid but if carriers have to wait then they'll get back late. Did it even occur to you that getting mail timely might negate some of the route changes you are harping on? Page 12 you think that route adjustments are the cause of the poor performance... No...Did you even consider asking the carriers if they had mail on time would it have helped them get back on time and do a better, more professional job? You have many audit reports which all say the same thing and you have never addresses the problem (nationwide) of delivery delays and improper mail mix getting to delivery units. When will you wake up and do a real audit of the real problem? ps...Don't say this wasn't in the scope of your audit....Yes, it is the absolute crux of the problem you identified.

    Jul 21, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments. The team will continue to monitor this body of work and plans to conduct future reviews.

    Jul 24, 2018
  • anon

    With Department of Labor (in my particular instance) & other critical Federal Agencies Communicating/Interacting with Atlanta District USPS, there are thousands (if not millions) lives at stake. Losses/delays of critical documents issued by such agencies have a tremendous impact on individuals, families & even organizations. Such a report only identifies the gaps to fix future issues but the lives already ruined, due to the impact is beyond forgiveness.

    Jul 18, 2018
  • anon

    This falls hand in hand with my complaint about the fact that there are problems with management not completing the task at hand. This also identifies the reason that mail/packages are missing and a resolution is supposedly reached but the customer is not notified, nor reimbursed for their losses. Like me, and no one will take the time to contact you about it. Wow

    Jul 12, 2018
  • anon

    RE: EXCESSIVE OVERTIME USAGE WITH LESS VOLUME OF MAIL. With less volume of mail in circulation, what I have seen is letter carriers casing and sorting their mail with the old standards or old mail case up times. Without the stereotypes of Georgia, compared to the metropolitan cities of Washington DC as an equivalence and poor performance goals. 1) Are the carriers meeting their casing standards and the minimum pieces of mail to be cased within an hour. 2) Are the carriers casing all their mail up before the lunch hour with their FC, First Class Mail and periodicals as their prioritized first, then standard mail pieces. 3) Allowing for an extra PM, Prioritized Mail to be delivered from their Distribution Center and hold carriers for this delivery truck before or during the hours of 11:00am-13:00pm. If the Letter Carriers are not meeting their casing standards and measurements, its time for disciplines or PDI. We have had Carriers case and delivery FM First Class mail only by 10:30am on a Monday. Attitudes for less mail and keeping old bad habits are hard to change, and its time to lay off the carrier.

    Jul 10, 2018