City delivery office operations cover every duty a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier performs in the office. These duties include casing mail (placing mail in delivery order), preparing parcels for delivery, and retrieving accountable items, such as keys and postage due. City letter carriers are delivering more packages and fewer letters to more addresses each year. To accommodate this growth, the Postal Service must deliver the increased package volume and maintain efficiency.
In fiscal year (FY) 2014, Greater Boston District city letter carriers delivered over 2.2 billion mailpieces on 3,701 routes to more than 1.8 million delivery points. City delivery office workhours for this period totaled 1,858,595.
Our objective was to assess the office efficiency of city delivery operations in the Greater Boston District.
What The OIG Found
The Greater Boston District has opportunities to enhance efficiency in city delivery office operations. We found the district’s percent to standard, a measurement that assesses office efficiency, was 123.23 percent, 16.14 percentage points above the national average of 107.09 percent. A percent to standard score greater than 100 percent indicates performance is less than the desired standard. In FY 2014, 68 of 183 delivery units (37 percent) used 265,462 more office workhours, or about 21 more minutes of office time per day on each route, which resulted in $12.3 million in questioned costs.
These conditions occurred because of late mail arrival, time-wasting practices of carriers, and improperly staged delivery point sequence letters. We also found outdated or non-existent integrated operating plans, and managers not always enforcing policies and procedures. Eliminating these workhours would increase overall efficiency at delivery units and allow an additional one-time cost avoidance of about $12.3 million.
We also identified inadequate safeguards over stamp stock, cash, and money orders valued at $512,371 at 11 delivery units. Management immediately initiated corrective action on these matters; therefore, we are not making a recommendation on this issue.
At the request of the manager, Greater Boston District, we surveyed city carrier assistants on retention issues. To increase retention, the city carrier assistants stated they wanted higher pay, benefits, opportunities for career positions, fixed days off, additional training, and performance feedback. We are referring this issue to our Human Resources and Support Directorate for further review.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended the manager, Greater Boston District, eliminate 265,462 workhours at the delivery units, prepare up-to-date integrated operating plans, and eliminate inefficient office practices. Further, he should ensure letter mailpieces arrive in route order and adhere to Postal Service supervisor policies and procedures.