In 2022, in support of its 10-Year Delivering for America plan, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to redesign and modernize its processing and delivery network. The Postal Service plans to integrate the network to standardize operations, improve building and operating conditions for employees, enable customer service and local commerce opportunities, and gain efficiencies in transportation and mail handling costs. As part of the plan, the Postal Service expects to convert approximately 400 selected sites into Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DC) nationwide. These centers will consolidate multiple delivery units and package sortation operations into one facility. As of June 2023, the Postal Service had opened 14 S&DCs nationwide.
What We Did
The objective of this audit was to assess the effectiveness of communications with stakeholders and identify successes, opportunities, and lessons learned during the launch of the new S&DCs. Specifically, we focused on the first six S&DCs opened in November 2022 and February 2023. We also reviewed the first Parcel Distribution Center opened in November 2022.
What We Found
Overall, we found the seven locations operated as designed and experienced several successes during opening operations. However, we found the Postal Service has opportunities to improve communication with external stakeholders prior to opening S&DCs. In addition, we found opportunities to improve operations related to facilities, post office box mail availability (P.O. Box up-time) and small delivery unit sorter machine sort programs (an automated process for distributing packages to carrier routes). Lastly, we identified lessons learned by the Postal Service that management plans to implement prior to opening future S&DCs.
We provided five recommendations to address issues with stakeholder communication, facilities readiness, post office box mail availability, and sort programs.
USPS Proposed Resolution
Develop and implement policy to ensure all future Sorting and Delivery Center plans are consistently and clearly communicated and stakeholders are given the opportunity to report concerns.
Develop a plan to ensure restroom, breakroom and locker room construction projects are completed prior to opening Sorting and Delivery Centers, or that there are acceptable alternatives, given the number of employees impacted, and that the alternatives meet all health and safety requirements.
Evaluate whether construction projects related to the seven facilities were completed and develop a plan to address all outstanding construction and safety issues.
Identify the cause of late Post Office Box up-times and take necessary action to ensure up-times are met. Additionally, develop a plan to mitigate issues with Post Office Box up-times prior to opening future S&DCs.
Require documentation be maintained to verify sort programs are updated, loaded, and tested prior to opening new Sorting and Delivery Centers.