Audit Report – DR-AR-14-006 – 07/21/2014
In recent years, more city letter carriers have been returning from their delivery routes after 5 p.m. Safety concerns increase after dark and a number of recent incidents of violence against carriers have been reported in the media. Media have also reported that customers are unhappy when their mail arrives after dark. From fiscal year (FY) 2011 to FY 2013, the percentage of city letter carriers returning after 5 p.m. nationwide increased from 25 to 38 percent.
The U.S. Postal Service’s goal is for 95 percent of city letter carriers to return from street operations before 5 p.m. Meeting this target would ensure the Postal Service collects, distributes, and delivers the mail on time.
In FY 2013, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) risk indicator results consistently ranked the Capital Metro Area’s Capital District among the five districts nationwide with the most city letter carriers returning after 5 p.m. Our objective was to assess city letter carriers returning after 5 p.m. in the Capital District.
What the OIG Found
The number of city carriers returning after 5 p.m. is a growing problem in the Capital District, increasing by 14 percent from FY 2011, Quarter 1 to FY 2013, Quarter 4. City carriers returned after 5 p.m. because mail coming from processing facilities did not always meet times established in the integrated operating plan and management did not always properly supervise city delivery operations. Adhering to integrated operating plans will improve mail arrival time at delivery units. Further, better supervision of city letter carriers will reduce the number of carriers returning after 5 p.m., increase carrier safety, and reduce late mail delivery.
In other matters, external stakeholders suggested the Postal Service take additional safety measures such as providing brightly colored, reflective clothing to make city carriers more visible and identifiable in the dark. Other suggestions included providing additional safety training and realigning delivery routes so carriers can deliver mail earlier in the day in dangerous areas.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended the manager, Capital District, prepare integrated operating plans with facility processing managers that include changes to the 24-hour clock to facilitate earlier arrival of mail at delivery units. We also recommended adherence to Postal Service policies and procedures for supervising city delivery operations and collaboration with managers and union officials to address carrier safety.