The Mail Recovery Center (MRC) is the U.S. Postal Service’s official lost and found department. Processing centers and retail and delivery units nationwide send mail items with no valid addressee or sender information to the MRC. The MRC’s core mission is to search, recover, forward, or return undeliverable mail nationwide.
In fiscal year 2014, the MRC received 88 million items, processed 12 million for possible return to customers, and returned 2.5 million. All items not returned to customers were sold at auction, donated, or destroyed.
The objective of this audit was to assess the MRC’s effectiveness at handling customer inquiries and managing items it received.
What the OIG Found
The MRC did not effectively handle customer inquiries or manage undeliverable items it received in certain circumstances. Specifically, the MRC did not:
┬ª Track how many inquiries resulted in items returned to customers.
┬ª Return, dispose of, or secure military items efficiently.
┬ª Return wallets, purses, and the documents they contained to customers.
┬ª Sufficiently oversee the contractor responsible for auctioning unclaimed items at the MRC.
In addition, Postal Service operations outside of the MRC’s control negatively impacted MRC efforts to return undeliverable items to customers. Specifically, sales and service associates did not provide customers with clear instructions for filing search inquiries and field offices incorrectly sent recyclable materials to the MRC.
These conditions occurred because the Postal Service either did not have adequate policies and procedures for these functions or did not follow them. As a result, there is an increased risk that customers may not have the opportunity to recover lost items.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended the Postal Service enhance policies and procedures for handling lost and undeliverable mail at the MRC, review the contract for auctioning unclaimed items, instruct sales and service associates to provide customers with proper procedures for filing a search inquiry, and enforce existing policy for recyclable materials that should not be sent to the MRC.
USPS Proposed Resolution
R - 1 -- Enhance policies and procedures for Mail Recover Center employees handling lost and undeliverable mail related to customer inquiry data and the handling of military items, and wallets, and purses.
R - 2 -- Review the contract for auctioning unclaimed items for potential additional revenue and document all required contractor performance reviews.
R - 3 -- Instruct sales and service associates to provide customers with proper procedures for filing a search inquiry.
R - 4 -- Instruct sales and service associates not to send recyclable materials to the Mail Recovery Center.