Santa Clarita, CA Processing and Distribution Center

Background

The U.S. Postal Service considers mail to be delayed when it is not processed in time to meet its established delivery day. Delayed mail can adversely affect Postal Service customers and harm the organization’s brand.

We used our risk model to identify processing facilities with high volumes of delayed mail. From April to September 2016, delayed mail volume at the Santa Clarita, CA, Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) increased by more than 34 million pieces (or 264 percent) compared to the same period last year while national delayed mail volume decreased by 75 percent.

The Santa Clarita P&DC is responsible for the Postal Automated Redirection System (PARS) mail for Southern California. PARS is an automated process that redirects mail because of insufficient postage, a change of address or because the mail cannot be delivered due to an incomplete or incorrect address.

Of the 47 million delayed mailpieces at the Santa Clarita P&DC from April to September 2016, 27 million were PARS mail, 19 million were letters and flats, and 839,000 were packages.

Our objective was to determine the cause of delayed mail at the Santa Clarita P&DC.

What the OIG Found

PARS and letter mail was delayed because the Santa Clarita P&DC did not have enough staff to operate mail processing machines and delivery unit employees did not follow PARS mail preparation procedures. Additionally, we found that packages were delayed or sent to another facility for processing because of insufficient machine processing capacity.

In January 2016, PARS mail processing operations moved from the Industry, CA, P&DC to the Santa Clarita P&DC with 24 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions instead of the requested 64 FTE positions (or 63 percent fewer). Management said they were in the process of filling the open PARS positions.

During our site visit in October 2016, we observed that, because of insufficient staff, up to 12 employees on each shift routinely split their workhours between operating PARS mail processing machines and working in another mail processing operation. This caused the PARS machines to be idle for a portion of these shifts.

Furthermore, employees at the almost 300 delivery units served by the Santa Clarita P&DC did not always follow PARS mail preparation procedures when sending mail to the P&DC. For example, they did not properly label trays containing PARS mail or correctly identify PARS mail trays by category. As a result, P&DC personnel had to manually sort PARS mail so it could be processed for delivery.

During our site visit, there was a processing backlog of up to 4 days, with an average of about 995,000 pieces of PARS-delayed mail per day. We discussed the backlog and the incorrect PARS mail preparation with P&DC management. Management subsequently took corrective action to ensure the delivery units used the PARS mail preparation procedures before sending the mail to the P&DC.

The Santa Clarita P&DC did not have sufficient machine capacity for packages. Management said the P&DC operated the package processing machines for more hours than planned to ensure mail scheduled for delivery the next day was processed. As a result, there was not enough time to complete scheduled preventive maintenance.

In addition, we observed the Santa Clarita P&DC sending up to four trailers of packages a day to the Los Angeles International Service Center for processing. Management said the P&DC is supposed to receive an additional package processing machine once they move PARS operations to the Pasadena P&DC in March 2017. We did not assess these changes and plan to evaluate them in future audit work.

PARS mail preparation and staffing issues and the insufficient machine capacity for packages from April to September 2016 resulted in about 29,000 more overtime hours than budgeted, at a cost of over $1 million. Management said they used the additional overtime workhours to keep staff after their shifts to process PARS mail and sort packages.

When mail processing facilities do not have sufficient staffing and machine capacity and delivery unit employees do not follow established procedures, there is an increased risk of delayed mail and overtime. In addition to the added costs of overtime, delayed mail could cause customers to move to alternative service providers, which would reduce revenue.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended that Postal Service management ensure an adequate balance of PARS mail workload and staff to prevent delayed mail and overtime. We also recommended management ensure delivery units comply with PARS mail preparation procedures.

Finally, we recommended that management develop a 2-5 year package processing plan to ensure processing capacity and staffing are adequate to support current and future package volume growth; in the interim, continue to redirect packages to facilities with excess processing capacity where possible; and ensure preventive maintenance is performed within established parameters.

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Comments (14)

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  • anon

    I must be the lucky one. I found this article while looking for a means to compliment Santa Clarita. (I still want to do that)! My experience has been that if an item reaches Santa Clarita, I will have no problems getting my delivery. First Class or package, I will receive the piece on time or ahead of schedule. And it will be in good condition, as well. I have said this often to many people. I have even posted comments to that effect on both eBay’s and Amazon’s websites. I always hope that my mail WILL come through Santa Clarita. As an example, today I will be receiving an item I had originally been told not to expect before October 11. It’s on the truck now. Tracking shows that all the speediness took place in Santa Clarita. I say thank you and congratulations to the men and women who are doing a tough job so well!

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    My international package I shipped to Ukraine from United States has departed the facility on 6/23/2017. It's currently 8/29/2017 and it still hasn't been delivered. Who can I call in Ukraine to check on the package? It was shipped international first class mail.

    Aug 29, 2017
  • anon

    priority/insured electronics sent and of course when i looked at the tracking information "delayed" is all it says. You cant get through to anyone and they force you to use their automated phone/email system to submit a lost ticket. Ridiculous is all I can say. Use alternatives as is typical with gov/semi-gov agencies they have crappy service and atrocious response times. Change the constitution to get rid of this agency!!!!

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    Seeing this report is of great concern to me. I recently mailed a pair of property tax payments to LA County that were delayed in the Santa Clarita facility, and now I'm looking at $900 in penalty payments. 47 million pieces of mail were delayed in just three months in 2016? Unbelievable!

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    I mailed a package @ 2:10 PM on 5-1-17 and paid more for 1-2 days delivery to Virginia. My receipt says this package will be delivered on Wednesday 5-3-17. My package was NOT delivered 5-3-17. I should get my money back for such poor customer service. It took 33 hours for my package to go 70 miles from my house to San Francisco. That is absolutely ridiculous!!! You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    May 03, 2017
  • anon

    inquiry: delayed mail parcels. Thank you

    May 03, 2017
  • anon

    Over 87 people have recently reported theft or tampering of packages at the bulk sorting facility in Springfield, MA. Google's online "Reviews" system shows rampant reports of packages being sliced open -- valuables extracted, and replaced with garbage or junk -- and reinserted into the mail stream. Packages go off the radar permanently, and it is evident to anyone capable of a Google search that there is a theft ring operating within this facility. Dozens have reported, yet nothing is done. It is ironic that the USPS pretends to care by publishing articles like this, citing technical innovations and the like, when in reality they have a major den of thieves openly stealing mail at a major East Coast hub, and the reviews show that complainants are routinely hung-up on, ridiculed, etc. My father worked 25 years as a letter carrier, but USPS is no longer a reputable organization.

    Apr 18, 2017
  • anon

    Maybe you should look at the facilities in Prescott Valley AZ. I had a package that Amazon showed as delivered and left in a parcel locker at 4:56 PM yesterday 4/13/2017 when it was in actuality not put into a parcel locker until 14:00 today 4/14/2017. Even the tracking on USPS.com showed the same info as Amazon. I went to pick up the package last night but there was NONE! I have insider information that they scan packages as delivered so people will look like they are doing their jobs when in actuality, they are not. This happens a lot. Don't even bother complaining to a manager or a supervisor, they avoid conflict like the plague!

    Apr 14, 2017
  • anon

    They still don't know whare my package is.it Ben lost ? For three weeks or so. I wish they would just ship it back to me! PLEASE!!!

    Apr 12, 2017
  • anon

    Nationally delayed mail has decreased by 75%. That is good news, so how come this is the first I, a USPS employee am hearing of it? Anecdotal good news is nice but carries little weight. It is good to share news of substance with employees.

    Apr 11, 2017
  • anon

    Not sure why this a surprise. Everywhere in the PO is understaffed. Working the staff 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hrs a day is the norm in Baltimore. Never take into account vacations or illness. PSEs and CCA are treated terrible. As long as Mangament can say the mail is delivered.

    Apr 11, 2017
  • anon

    When is my package Kay jewilers come

    Apr 11, 2017
  • anon

    The Michigan Metroplex P&DC is worse. Management covers up their tracks to make them look good, especially when it comes to filling out reports to their bosses and on telecons. Delayed mail constantly (1st class and standard) and they hide mail in semi trailers, especially when the PMG was there in August of 2016. Please take a look. This poor performance of the plant makes it harder on the AOs because of all the working mail that comes late or getting circulars that were suppose to be delivered by a specific date but come days later because the plant didn't process. This is especially true in regards to Mount Clemens MI main and annex post office.

    Apr 10, 2017
  • anon

    You should resign your position within the service and find a job that you can me proud of.. You a post employee that is instructed to perform your job you are being paid to perform and seem like a disengaged employees that should have been terminated years ago.

    May 05, 2017