Excessive delayed mail adversely affects U.S. Postal Service customers and harms the organization’s brand. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Performance and Risk Information System model identified the Central PA District as having significant delayed mail volume. Analysis of delayed mail during fiscal year (FY) 2014, Quarter (Q)1 and Q2 identified the Harrisburg Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) as the plant most at risk for delayed mail, compared to similarly sized facilities.
Our objective was to determine whether the Harrisburg P&DC processed mail on time.
What the OIG Found
Although it has made improvements, the Harrisburg P&DC had difficulties processing its mail on time.
In FY 2014, Q1 there were 98 million pieces of delayed mail. The level of delayed mail decreased to 61 million pieces in Q2 and 16 million pieces in Q3. We attributed this improvement largely to a lower volume of mail processed in Q3. The addition of 113 employees in Q2 and Q3 also contributed to this improvement.
Despite the FY 2014, Q3 improvement, there are still areas at risk that could make it difficult for the Harrisburg P&DC to process mail on time. For example, the Harrisburg P&DC has a June 2013 facility operating plan that does not reflect recent consolidation activity. An up-to-date operating plan would reflect changes in processing operations and give management an overview of the amount of mail projected to be cancelled. In addition, there were not enough maintenance employees in FY 2014, Q3, which put operations at risk. Of the authorized 189 maintenance positions, 64 were vacant, resulting in less preventative maintenance and equipment breakdowns. Equipment was down for nearly 4,000 hours for mechanical reasons in FY 2014, Q1and Q2, an increase of 12 percent over the same period last year.
Finally, additional supervisory employees are needed to ensure adequate oversight; nine of the 26 authorized supervisor and two of three manager, Distribution Operations, positions were vacant in FY 2014, Q3.
Delays in processing resulting from these areas at risk could cause late mail delivery that could negatively impact service performance.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended the senior plant manager update the Harrisburg P&DC operating plan and fill maintenance and supervisor vacancies to authorized levels.