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.

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Comments (8)

  • anon

    Bet you won't post this comment.... You were supposed to look at mail delivery delays... You started off well and then fumbled. Let's pull an analogy... You are supposed to eat dinner at 5:00. But mom doesn't start cooking til 4:45 and she doesn't get dinner on the table til 6:00. You have a little league game at 6:15. If mom had just gotten her act together and did dinner as planned, you'd have made the game. But No....Mom got all messed up and you only got done dinner without enough time to get to the game... Your report stated that mail got to the post office late and clerks did not get all their work done by 8:30 and so the carriers were put behind the 8Ball. Duh...All the fancy programs and management interventions during the day are still messed up because the Carriers started late... Did OIG look into this???? Nooo. Just like in every other delivery audit... The carriers and their managers are no miracle workers. If you can't get the mail to them properly and on time, they can't get their jobs done on time... How about you look into that. And, just maybe, your audits will start making a difference. Absent that, this and your other audits are a waste of time.

    Apr 20, 2019
  • anon

    I'm happy OIG did post my comment. Two weeks have now gone by and no comment from OIG on the meat of my post.... The salient point of the post was OIG should be looking into this poor delivery by plants to post offices which occur nationwide. (see all your prior delivery audits)......Please respond that you recognize this enormous problem and will be investigating it... Thank You

    May 08, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. We are currently developing our FY 2020 Workload Plan and are considering conducting a review of the internal delivery processes the Postal Service currently uses and improvements that can be made.

    May 09, 2019
  • anon

    Thank you... You just posted another audit on delivery operations...Item#3 again brought up problems in getting the mail from plant to post office... This is a nationwide problem... The costs have to be astronomical.. Senior management has to aware of this.. If OIG could just start by doing a random sampling. Develop costs. And show the magnitude of the problem. And extrapolate this to a nationwide costing. Just getting the basic system to work at the lowest level should save millions upon millions. Nothing will happen until management decides this is a problem and works from the bottom up to solve it.. The Martinette Dictums from the top down are worthless.. Good Luck...And Thanks...

    May 24, 2019
  • anon

    Where is my package? It was sent express overnight and still has not reached me. Guaranteed??? As if!! Nothing has been updated on it as to where the package is.

    Apr 18, 2019
  • anon

    Same here I been waiting since the 16 of April 2019 and today it’s the 23 and nothing not gonna use usps no more. Worst service

    Apr 24, 2019
  • anon

    Fianaly the truth! Richmond VA. I have sent hundreds of Return Reciept Requests, Priority overnight express. This is not a result of USPS, It is a result of poor industries "not doing their job effectively" The fact is, these companies have no organization skills. Lets shift the focus on Auditing & Investigating from the inside! USPS hand delivers bulk mail correctly. The delays are due to the lack of personal that continues to pile our corresponds. This process is then falling back on the consumers. Excuses: The mail was not delivered, We did not recieve your information. Ultimately, lies on consumer to resend their, "Again" USPS remains in this viscous cycle. Go directly into the source where investigators will locate & confirm exactly where these companies are dumping, hiding & destroying by Failing to correct this fraudulent activities. Another issue lies by these companies giving limited the physical addresses, contact names direct phone numbers. Stop the use PO BOXS immediately. Hold the organisation's accountable, according to the Rules & Regulatons Of The Laws that have existed & have not changed. For each letter lost, missing or incomplete, Propose a Fine within 10 days. To ensure compliance. This will eleavate all blame on The USPS. Inspector General dig deeper.

    Apr 17, 2019
  • anon

    I currently have a reopened case regarding a package that had been sitting at the Richmond facility for almost a month. It was shipped out 12 March and the tracking has stopped updating once it got to the San Francisco Distribution Center. This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s hard enough trying to get in tough with customer support and when I do they just blow me off.

    Apr 16, 2019