The objectives of the audit were to identify trends or systemic issues identified from previous OIG facility condition reviews (FCRs) of Postal Service retail facilities and assess the effectiveness of management’s corrective actions.
During fiscal years 2016–2017, the OIG conducted a series of facility condition reviews at 149 retail facilities nationwide. This report summarizes the results of the OIG-issued reports for each of the Postal Service’s seven geographic areas that addressed adherence to safety and security standards, building maintenance and employee working condition requirements, and assesses the Postal Service’s implementation of report recommendations.
What the OIG Found
The FCR audits, collectively, determined the Postal Service was not consistently adhering to building safety, security, and maintenance standards; or employee working conditions and handicap accessibility requirements. In addition, there were systemic issues with monitoring local customer complaints in compliance with Postal Service policy.
We identified that corrective actions management claimed to have implemented were either 1) not implemented as indicated, or 2) implemented but not effective in remedying the issue identified. Additionally, district safety personnel and local management’s safety inspections are ineffective in identifying potential hazards and risks.
In the previous FCRs, we identified poor and unsafe conditions at 99 percent (148 of 149) of the facilities we visited. We identified recurring findings related to adherence to safety and security standards, building maintenance and appearance, and employee working conditions across all seven Postal Service geographic areas. Significant issues identified included leaking roofs, potential asbestos, lead paint, mold, broken electrical panels, missing exit signage, and exposed wiring.
We made 32 recommendations in the previous FCR reports to address the issues identified and the Postal Service addressed 24 of those. However, we re-visited 10 facilities with significant safety and security issues and determined that each facility had unresolved safety, security, or maintenance issues that management indicated had been addressed in corrective action responses. We also identified new safety and security issues at eight of the 10 facilities.
We conducted additional follow-up with 49 of the 149 facilities previously visited to determine whether safety, security, and building maintenance conditions were addressed. Management at 18 percent (nine of 49) of the facilities either did not provide evidence validating that they remediated the conditions identified or they provided insufficient evidence.
Facility condition issues continue to occur because 1) management may overlook facility conditions in order to meet operational needs and employees are unaware of the consequences and impact of nonadherence to policy or adequate facility upkeep; 2) employees are not consistently using appropriate systems to request repairs and document maintenance issues; 3) there are budgetary constraints; and 4) district safety personnel and local management may require additional training and oversight.
When corrective actions are not implemented or are implemented but inadequate, safety issues may still exist, increasing the Postal Service’s exposure to OSHA fines, the risk of injury to customers and employees, and any costs associated with injuries such as workers’ compensation claims, loss of work and productivity, and lawsuits. Additionally, when issues are not properly documented or tracked, management may be unaware of facility conditions, repair or maintenance needs, and the extent of deferred maintenance at facilities. Lastly, these issues can impact the Postal Service’s public image, brand loyalty, and, ultimately, its revenue/bottom line.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management ensure that corrective actions area management communicates as addressed have been properly implemented and the issue(s) no longer exists; develop a robust training program and communication plan to holistically address facility condition awareness, protocols, monitoring, and reporting; and establish an oversight mechanism to ensure safety inspections are completed accurately and deficiencies are addressed.