The Postal Service has approximately 300 mail processing facilities nationwide. Many facilities have not met their established processing and transportation timelines, which has resulted in the Postal Service not meeting service commitments to its customers for many of its mail and package products. As processing facilities have failed to process mail on time, the result has been increased reliance on late and extra surface trips. To address these issues, the Postal Service has outlined a 10-year plan, called Delivering for America, that includes recalibrating its operating plans and employee complement to achieve operating precision with a focus on achieving efficiency, consistency, and lower costs.
The Baltimore Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) is in the Chesapeake Division of the Eastern processing region and that facility processes letters, flats, and packages. From August 1, 2020, to July 31, 2021, the Baltimore P&DC processed about 1.67 billion mailpieces compared to about 1.74 billion mailpieces during the same period last year — a decrease of about 70 million mailpieces (4 percent). However, during that same period, workhours and overtime at the facility increased by 14.6 and 43.5 percent, respectively.
Our audit scope occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Postal Service experienced decreased employee availability during this time. Employees were allowed to use Emergency Paid Leave and Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave for COVID-related issues such as a medical diagnosis, illness, childcare, quarantine, and immunization. Specifically, at the Baltimore P&DC from August 2020 to July 2021, employee availability ranged from 58.64 percent to 69.53 percent and averaged about 64.97 percent (see Figure 1). This was below the goal5 of 94.82 percent for FYs 2020 and 2021.
Recently, the OIG audited nine Baltimore delivery units as part of a congressional request to evaluate mail delivery and customer service operations on selected routes. The objective of this separate but related self-initiated audit was to evaluate the efficiency of plant operations at the Baltimore, MD, P&DC. This audit was completed to identify mail processing issues at the Baltimore P&DC that could affect delivery units served by this P&DC.