USPS OIG Report: Function 4 Efficiency in the Colorado/Wyoming District

The U.S. Postal Service tracks customer service activities, known as Function 4, at post offices, stations, and branches as part of its ongoing effort to provide cost-effective, high-quality customer service.

Postal Service managers have specific policies and procedures for monitoring customer service operational efficiency, such as:

  • The Customer Service Variance model, which helps assess retail customer service productivity at select retail units.
  • Post Office Box and Distribution Up-Time reports, which help track mail timeliness.
  • The integrated operating plan and mail arrival profile, which state when mail will arrive and the types of mail that will be present.
  • Scanning performance goals as properly scanning all barcodes will help provide package visibility, retain customers, and provide information that can be used to improve operations and reduce costs.

Our objective was to assess customer service operational efficiency in the Colorado/Wyoming District. This audit is one in a series of Function 4 efficiency audits. We selected this district as it was one of the most inefficient districts for customer service in fiscal year (FY) 2015 according to our risk model. We also considered geographic factors, such as the presence of both rural and urban units.

What the OIG Found
The Colorado/Wyoming District has opportunities to improve customer service operational efficiency. We visited 15 facilities and identified deficiencies that could contribute to untimely mail delivery and inefficient customer service operations. Specifically:

  • Units did not meet mail timeliness targets. Twelve units did not meet the target for distribution of mail to letter carriers and three units did not meet the target for having mail ready for collection by Post Office Box customers. Seven units received mail from the plants that was late and not properly prepared.
  • Mail was not properly scanned. Employees at eight units did not perform required mail arrival scans and undelivered Vacation Hold and Notice Left parcels were incorrectly scanned as Delivered at nine units.

These conditions occurred because district and local management did not adequately monitor all customer service-related operations. Units had outdated mail arrival profiles and integrated operating plans, the staff was not following efficient mail processing procedures, and some units had poor workroom layouts.

These deficiencies could contribute to late mail delivery and inefficient customer service operations. According to the Customer Service Variance model, units we visited incurred 69,463 more workhours than planned in FY 2016, costing the Postal Service $2.7 million.

What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management develop strategies to more effectively monitor customer service operations by coordinating units’ integrated operating plans and mail arrival profiles; actively monitoring employees to manage workload and ensure they are processing mail efficiently; evaluating unit workroom layout and use; and instructing unit employees to follow required scanning procedures and verify these procedures are followed.

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Source: USPS Office of Inspector General

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