Our objective was to evaluate inbound international mail acceptance at U.S. Postal Service International Exchange Offices (IEOs). Inbound international mail originates in foreign countries for delivery in the U.S. and typically arrives at one of the five Postal Service International Service Centers (ISC) located in Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA. Postal Service policy also lists 22 IEOs that accept international mail.
What the OIG Found
The Postal Service accepted inbound international mail at only four of the 22 facilities listed as IEOs in its policy:
- The New Jersey International Network Distribution Center in Newark, NJ.
- The Honolulu Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) in Honolulu, HI.
- The Pago Pago Main Office in American Samoa.
- The Barrigada Post Office in Guam.
These four facilities accepted less than 5 percent of the total inbound international mail in fiscal year (FY) 2016, largely because of their unique geographic locations (except the New Jersey facility which mainly accepts surface mail, but also accepts some inbound air mail). The remaining 95 percent of inbound international mail volumes were accepted at the five ISCs, which are strategically located near large international airports across the country. None of the 18 remaining IEO facilities accepted international mail; three of which were closed. The 15 remaining IEOs continue to perform various domestic mail operations.
While two IEOs — the San Juan P&DC in Puerto Rico and the St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Post Office — do not accept international mail, they are listed as IEOs. Staff at these facilities present mail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for inspection since mail received from other ISCs and other Caribbean islands crosses an international border upon arrival into either Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
The Postal Service has not updated its policy governing the acceptance of inbound international mail for changes in international mail acceptance operations at these facilities; therefore, this policy is not reflective of current international mail acceptance operations. Postal Service management acknowledged this policy is outdated. As a result, reliance on inaccurate and outdated policy may lead to operational inefficiencies.
We also noted during our observations at the San Juan P&DC that CBP officers were not able to scan packages selected for further inspection into the Postal Service’s Global Business System (GBS) due to invalid login credentials provided by the Postal Service. CBP and Postal Service officials both acknowledged that CBP officers should have access to GBS to scan and document packages held for inspection. When packages selected for inspection are not scanned and documented in GBS in a timely manner, the Postal Service and customers may not have visibility into the location of their packages.
Local standard operating procedures for outlining appropriate access controls and procedures when the Postal Service coordinates with CBP could help mitigate potential access issues in San Juan. Such standard operating procedures are being developed at each Postal Service facility (including the San Juan P&DC) where mail is presented to CBP in accordance with a recent national memorandum of understanding (MOU). Based on the planned development of a local MOU at the San Juan P&DC, we will not make a recommendation for the Postal Service to develop local standard operating procedures in this report. However, we will continue to monitor this issue.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management update Postal Service policies governing the facilities that accept inbound international mail and provide CBP officers with valid login credentials to access GBS.