Our objective was to assess Function 4 operational efficiency in the Suncoast District.
U.S. Postal Service financial systems track customer service operations as Function 4 operations. Function 4 includes customer service activities of employees at post offices, stations, and branches involved in distribution of mail, retail window, and miscellaneous administrative operations.
Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September 2017, impacting Postal Service operations, including those in the Suncoast District. As a result of this storm, we suspended our audit work and did not conduct site visits and observations at six of the 12 post offices selected, limiting our audit scope to the work that was conducted prior to the hurricane.
What the OIG Found
Based on our limited testing, the Suncoast District has opportunities to improve customer service operational efficiency. We visited six units and identified deficiencies that could contribute to inefficient customer service operations and decreased customer satisfaction. Specifically:
Units did not always meet mail timeliness requirements. In particular:
- Five units did not meet the target time for distribution of mail to letter carriers and were between 10 minutes and 1 hour late.
- Two units did not meet the target for having mail ready for collection by Post Office (PO) Box customers and were between 32 minutes and 1 hour late. In addition, two units delivered mail to closed PO Boxes with one unit allowing access to seven of the closed boxes.
- Four units did not prepare and dispatch Postal Automated Redirection System (PARS) mail daily.
These conditions occurred because district and local management did not adequately update or follow Integrated Operating Plans/Mail Arrival Profiles and monitor PO Box and PARS mail processing procedures.
Mail was not properly scanned. In particular:
- Five units did not perform required “Notice Left” scans for 21 of 109 mailpieces.
- Two units did not perform required mail arrival scans for two of six accountable mailpieces.
- Three units did not perform required scans on mailpieces found at carrier cases and one unit in parcel hampers.
These conditions occurred because local management did not adequately monitor scanning procedures.
These deficiencies could contribute to late mail delivery and inefficient customer service operations. According to the Customer Service Variance Model used to assess retail customer service productivity, units we visited used 7,989 more workhours than planned in fiscal year 2017, costing the Postal Service almost $327,000.
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 ensure efficient mail processing procedures;
- Instructing unit employees to follow required scanning procedures and ensure the procedures are followed.