Mobile Delivery Devices (MDD) are new handheld scanners that allow U.S. Postal Service letter carriers to track package delivery in real-time. Package visibility is essential for the Postal Service to be competitive and also to support package growth.
MDDs replace the Intelligent Mail Device (IMD) and clamshell cell phones that letter carriers currently use to track package delivery in near real-time. IMDs have limited capabilities and are experiencing end-of-life issues. MDDs are single devices intended to support multiple requirements — such as Sunday delivery and dynamic routing — report scan data faster, and support future software enhancements.
Between September and December 2014, the Postal Service deployed 75,386 MDDs to letter carriers at a cost of $149 million. It began Phase 2 deployment of 188,000 MDDs in February 2015. Management plans to complete Phase 2 deployment for $349 million in September 2015, for a total deployment of 263,386 MDDs.
Our objective was to assess the deployment plan and functionality of MDDs.
What The OIG Found
We visited 40 sites and interviewed 92 supervisors and 154 letter carriers in the Capital and Northern Virginia districts and found that Phase 1 MDD deployment was adequate and ahead of schedule. However, we found three common functionality issues: screen freezes, laser beam reader freezes, and insufficient battery life. Letter carriers used ineffective or inefficient workarounds, often counter to operating instructions when MDDs did not work as designed. In addition, we found the MDD training program needs improvement and the Critical Parts Center processes eBuy2 and help desk-requested MDDs and accessories without ensuring the parts actually need to be replaced or are not covered by warranties.
Inadequate MDD functionality, training, and spare parts management can cause mail and service delays, which may reduce customer satisfaction and prevent the Postal Service from becoming the shipper of choice. In addition, the MDD program has an added expense of over $255,000 because of purchasing items for spares or replacements that were under warranty.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended management establish controls to ensure all MDD functionalities are operating, evaluate current MDD training, and establish controls for processing MDD eBuy2 and help desk requests to ensure there is an actual need for replacement and equipment is not under warranty.