Objective

Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of management controls over the Landlord Maintenance Program (LPM). Specifically, the controls in place to ensure compliance with policies and procedures related to leased buildings for which the landlords have repair and maintenance responsibilities. Our fieldwork was completed before the President of the United States issued the national emergency declaration concerning the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on March 13, 2020. The results of this audit do not reflect any process changes that may have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

The Postal Service leases over 25,000 properties totaling almost 80 million square feet of interior space. Most leases are renewed every five years and include a maintenance rider. The rider establishes responsibility for maintenance and repairs between the Postal Service and the lessor. When the landlord does not complete a repair in the timeframe the Postal Service stipulates, the Postal Service can perform the work through an enforcement process. The landlord is then responsible for reimbursing the Postal Service for any costs incurred through the fee recovery process.

The Postal Service’s LMP manages repair requests at landlord-responsible leased facilities. This includes addressing issues with the landlord to complete maintenance requests, enforce delayed maintenance, resolve disputes, and ensure repayment of Postal Service incurred expenses via direct reimbursement or rent reduction. The LMP outsources some tasks in the process including landlord notifications, management of repair requests, and enforcements through a contract with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. and their subcontractor, EMCOR Group, Inc. The Landlord Maintenance Standard Operating Procedures outline the guidelines and time requirements for these notifications and repair procedures. Additionally, these procedures include a process step for the contractor to confirm, with the facility, that the landlord completed the work. Landlords are required to complete urgent/routine repair requests within 30 days. For emergency repair requests, landlords are required to complete the repair within 48 hours.

Findings

The Postal Service did not ensure responsible landlords completed urgent/routine repair requests timely. We selected a statistical sample of 207 out of 58,937 urgent, routine, and emergency repair requests to assess the program management of repairs at leased facilities. This included a review of landlord notifications and enforcements, completion of repairs, and recovery of Postal Service incurred costs.

We found the LMP addressed emergency repairs with the landlord within 48 hours of the request. However, the LMP did not ensure the contractor followed up on urgent/routine repairs to ensure work was completed within 30 days. As a result, landlords did not complete 118 of 192 (61 percent) urgent/routine repair requests as required.

The repairs landlords did not complete within the 30-day requirement included requests to fix leaking roofs, broken docks and doors, and potholes in pavement and parking lots. We also found that landlords took 112 days on average to address these issues. For example, we found tiles potentially containing asbestos took up to 605 days to address. We also found delays up to 484 days occurred due to weather conditions to address potholes and crumbling concrete for sidewalk entrances, while repairs to leaking roofs took up to 151 days.

We also found differing standards for landlord notification letters, repair procedures, and contractor performance goals, which increased the difficulty to manage the program and hold the contractor accountable for ensuring the landlord addressed and completed repairs timely. We also found that the electronic Facilities Management System did not provide complete and accurate data for the LMP management to identify when follow-up did not occur.

Additionally, we found that the contractor did not always initiate the enforcement process for the 118 urgent/routine repairs that landlords did not resolve timely. For 27 repairs, landlords completed the work within 44 days or the LMP staff granted an extension. However, of the remaining 91 repairs, the contractor did not enforce 53 repairs as required.

Finally, the LMP staff did not initiate the fee recovery process for 26 of 37 enforced repairs at leased facilities. For five other repairs, recovery did not occur for 110 to 116 days after the Postal Service paid for the work to be completed. We also identified missing records in electronic Facilities Management System for Postal Service costs for completed repair work. As a result, the LMP was not always able to recover funds from the landlord. We estimated the Postal Service incurred an annual cost of $1,125,610 by not recovering repair costs.

When established controls are not followed, landlords may not complete repairs timely and the Postal Service may incur additional costs. Unresolved repairs can result in health, safety, and security issues.

Recommendations

We recommended management:

  • Ensure the timeframes to complete urgent/routine repairs are consistent between the Landlord Maintenance Standard Operating Procedures and landlord notifications.
  • Enforce requirements with the contractor to ensure landlords complete repairs within the established timeframes.
  • Reinforce to LMP staff their responsibility to monitor and ensure the contractor enforces urgent/routine repairs after 30 days.
  • Document procedures for the Postal Service Repair & Alterations group to communicate completed work for enforced repairs at leased facilities to the LMP.
  • Establish and implement a plan with timeframes for the LMP to timely initiate the fee recovery process and collect expensed funds.

Read full report

Comments (4)

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  • anon

    I’m the owner of 500 West Main - Tupelo MS. Purchased building to renovate (post office only occupant) with remainder of building vacant. Now; that the renovations will be completed within 6 months I would love a contact to discuss needs of the post office space. We have new paint, floors, and bathroom update on list BUT wanted to discuss any other issues that we need to address. Whom do I contact? Thank you! Bev Crossen

    Aug 21, 2020
  • anon

    As a landlord of several properties, I can tell you that your repair management people at EMCOR are totally untrained in what is involved in property maintenance and what repairs entail. Sure, 30 days is more than adequate time for fixing a leaky faucet or replacing a doorknob. However, 30 days is illogical when requesting a roof repair in December when the roof is covered in snow/ice. The same with repairing a pothole in the middle of winter when the asphalt won't bind to the area around it. When a truck hit a building, EMCOR asked for a structural assessment. The engineer hired to do the structural assessment took more than 30 days to determine that the exterior wall could be repaired and did not need to be replaced. Even though EMCOR requested the structural assessment, the EMCOR person had no clue what an engineer's assessment entailed and referred the matter to enforcement because the engineer did not complete the structural assessment in 30 days. When a loading dock door needed replacement, a new door had to be order from the factory. The factory shut down due to the covid19 virus and a stay at home order by the state's governor. Even though EMCOR was advised of the stay at home order, they referred the problem to enforcement for a USPS contractor to replace the door because the factory would not violate the stay at home order. Seldom is there any effort by EMCOR to work with the landlords, all they know how to do is send a repair notice and to refer the problem to a USPS contractor if the repairs are not completed in 30 days.

    Jul 23, 2020
  • anon

    I live just around the corner from your post office 10174 Austin Dr, Spring Valley, and have been incredibly disappointed at the lack of maintenance to the landscaping at this location. Driving by tonight with their parking lot empty the grounds look like it's an abandoned property. Weeds growing as high as your waist with overgrown plants/trees and most of the rest are almost dead. At one point late last year there was a sign notifying of pending landscaping work...well the estimated completion time passed and eventually the sign was removed unlike any of the dead vegetation. This building is truly an eyesore on our community. I've even gone through the property once to remove a full trash can of litter from the bushes and along the street fronting the property. Please have the property looked at the give it some attention. Thank you kindly in advance. If you'd like, i would happily send you pictures if i have an email address to send them too. I also have talked to the person in charge there many months ago.

    Jun 28, 2020
  • anon

    Looking for a contact....anyone to talk to concerning facility management, specifically in the New England area. We are a GSA contract holder and have facility management, construction, emergency response capabilities for facilities. Thanks!

    Jun 19, 2020