Our objective was to evaluate mail delivery service issues at selected delivery units in the Ohio Valley District.
In fiscal year (FY) 2018, the U.S. Postal Service’s Ohio Valley District received 67,263 customer contacts regarding mail delivery and customer service. Residents expressed concerns with mail that was undelivered, mail delivered after normal delivery hours, and lost or undelivered packages.
Congressional representatives Joyce Beatty (OH District 03), Troy Balderson (OH District 12), and Steve Stivers (OH District 15), requested an audit of mail issues in central OH. Representatives indicated the concerns were centered in and around the city of Columbus, OH, in the Ohio Valley District in the Eastern Area. The Ohio Valley District has 192 delivery units and 2,933 routes.
Based on our analysis of key city delivery performance indicators, including carriers returning after 7 p.m., overtime hours used, and customer complaints, we selected six delivery units within the Ohio Valley District for review.
What the OIG Found
Mail was not always delivered on selected routes at two of the six units we reviewed. Specifically, at two of the six delivery units, mail that was scheduled for delivery was brought back to the unit by the carriers. In addition, none of the six units met the goal of 100 percent of city carriers returning to the office by 6 p.m.
We also found that these six units had over 3,700 instances of carriers returning to the delivery units after 7:00 pm during Quarter 2 of FY 2019. In addition, in FY 2018, all six delivery units had instances of carriers out as late as 8 p.m., and three of the six units had carriers out as late as 10 p.m. This resulted in residents receiving their mail after normal delivery hours and carriers incurring additional work hours on city delivery routes.
These conditions occurred because:
- Supervisors and managers were not consistently enforcing policies and communicating daily expectations to carriers about their responsibility for mail delivery on routes.
- Supervisors did not always report delayed mail in delivery units in the reporting system.
- Delivery unit management at all six delivery units had been in their positions for a short period of time.
- Mail transported from the processing center arrived late to the delivery units. Over 200 late trips originated from the Columbus Processing & Distribution Center.
- None of the six units achieved their goal of distributing mail to carrier routes after arrival from the processing center by 8 a.m., known as the Distribution Up Time, during March through May 2019.
- Supervisors did not always monitor carriers during street delivery.
When carriers are delayed by late mail arrival or supervisors do not utilize delivery operational and reporting tools to monitor carriers during street delivery, the customer can experience inefficient and untimely mail delivery. Improving service issues in city delivery operations and supervision and oversight of these operations would improve delivery service thus improving the customer’s delivery experience. Further, it would reduce excess workhours. We estimated the Ohio Valley District incurred questioned costs for unauthorized overtime and penalty overtime on routes of $3.4 million in FY 2018 at these six units.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Reinforce requirements to delivery unit supervisors to follow city delivery policies and standard operating procedures for setting expectations with carriers to deliver committed mail, daily.
- Instruct delivery unit supervisors to properly report occurrences of delayed mail in the Customer Service Daily Reporting System.
- Direct the Columbus Processing & Distribution Center Manager and Manager, Operation Program Support to coordinate mail arrival times in Integrated Operating Plans to improve mail flow between the plant and delivery units to achieve daily operational performance.
Direct supervisors to utilize delivery operational and reporting tools to monitor carriers during street delivery.