Our objective was to evaluate mail delivery delays in selected delivery units in the Richmond District.
Strong consumer demand for goods purchased over the Internet has driven growth in the package industry despite otherwise declining mail volume. This growing package segment provides the Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue.
With this growth, city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCAs) are 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. Meeting these expectations is key to maintaining customer confidence in the Postal Service.
The Postal Service’s goal is for 95 percent of city carriers to return from street operations before 5 p.m., and 100 percent by 6:00 p.m. By achieving this goal, the Postal Service can meet its 24-hour operational requirement to collect, distribute, and deliver mail on time.
This audit responds to concerns raised about mail service in selected post offices in the Richmond District. Customers complained their mail was not delivered, tampered with, damaged, and mis-delivered. The Richmond District has 74 delivery units, 1,415 city routes in the Delivery Operations Information System, and 1,064,670 city delivery points. Our analysis of key city delivery performance indicators including carriers returning after 7 p.m., overtime hours used, and customer complaints identified 16 delivery units with poor performance.
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 units identified:
- None of the 16 units achieved their goal of distributing mail to carrier routes after arrival from the processing center by 8:30 a.m., known as the Distribution-Up-Time (DUT), during September 2018;
- Over 18 percent of the city carriers returned to their units after 7 p.m. and as late as 10 p.m. in fiscal year (FY) 2018;
- Fifteen of 16 units (94 percent) did not properly manage arrow lock keys (used to secure and service mail receptacles), which are accountable items; and
- None of the 16 units adequately addressed Enterprise Customer Care (eCC) customer complaints. In FY 2018, the selected delivery units re-opened 811 of 16,243 resolved eCC cases. Further, 4,453 of 16,385 cases were not resolved within the Postal Service’s established timeframes of one-to-three days.
These conditions occurred because:
- Supervisors did not always use available tools to report operational and mail flow issues impacting city delivery;
- Supervisors at 11 of 16 units were not effectively communicating daily expectations to carriers to meet performance standards;
- 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;
- Carriers were not returning arrow lock keys at the end of the day, supervisors and clerks were unaware of the arrow lock key security policies, and carriers did not always sign for arrow lock keys; and
- Management did not follow the customer complaint resolution policy.
As a result, we estimated the Richmond District incurred $1.7 million annually in questioned costs for unauthorized overtime and penalty overtime. Furthermore, the district incurred questioned costs $83,899 annually for the processing of re-opened customer complaints.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Direct supervisors to communicate expectations to carriers and utilize operational and reporting tools to monitor delivery operations;
- Direct delivery unit management to follow policies and procedures to ensure the security and accountability of arrow lock keys; and
- Direct supervisors to follow customer service policies and procedures to maintain a customer complaint log and resolve customer complaints timely and with customer satisfaction.