Postal service

Return to Sender: Postal Service Audit Report Finds Baltimore Area Post Offices Flat in Delivering Mail

Of the. Richard W. Metzgar (R-Baltimore County), Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Rep. CA “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) stand outside a post office in Dundalk to discuss the findings of an audit report conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the service US postal. Photo by Hannah Gaskill.

An audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Postal Service found significant delays in mail delivery, inaccurate reporting, and improper scanning of packages at nine Baltimore-area post offices.

“I think it’s obvious that the problem in Baltimore is unlike any other problem nationwide,” Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) said at a news conference outside a post office. in Dundalk on Tuesday morning. “Actually, if you want to say it’s the worst, you can say it’s the worst.”

the report, provided to media on Tuesday, was in response to requests sent in May by Mfume and CA Representative “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.) to review customer service and mail delivery operations in Dundalk, Essex, Rosedale, Parkville , Middle River, Loch Raven, Clifton East End Station, Druid Station and Carroll Station post offices following a wave of complaints from constituents who said they were not receiving mail, including bills and prescription drugs .

The audit was carried out between June and November 2021.

Based on its findings, the OIG recommended to Lora McLucas, the new District Manager for the Maryland District:

  • Use a system to complete the removal process for part-time letter carriers who are no longer employed;
  • Hire and retain an adequate number of letter carriers;
  • Open a third carrier training academy in the region;
  • Systematically analyze data and establish metrics to determine when the Baltimore Postmaster should request resources from outside the region to assist with mail delivery;
  • Create a system to ensure that all delayed mail is reported to the daily customer service reporting system to accurately monitor delivery shortfalls;
  • Develop a list of troubled branches and instruct them to use video or photo technology to accurately report delayed mail to the daily customer service reporting system; and
  • Require carriers to follow procedures for processing and scanning packages.

According to the report, McLucas agreed with all of the OIG’s recommendations.

Jaime Lennon, spokesperson for Ruppersberger, said the Baltimore area has already begun implementing changes in response to the audit.

While McLucas has pledged to revamp local branches, members of the Maryland congressional delegation have their eyes on the ouster of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who they claim deliberately slowed processing and mail delivery due to the 2020 general election.

“You can’t blame hard-working postal workers for getting us through a pandemic when no one wanted to come to work,” Mfume said. “This problem started when Mr. DeJoy really got behind the wheel and started driving that car off the cliff.”

An audit of the U.S. Postal Service’s downtown Baltimore processing and distribution center is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

The results

The OIG measured the time it took for First Class Mail, Marketing Mail, Periodicals, Priority Express Mail, First Class Parcel, Priority Air Mail and Select Parcel Mail to be processed , picked up and delivered in the Baltimore area starting October 4th. , 2019, until July 2, 2021.

According to the report, only three product types met their service goal at least one week out of the 92 weeks measured in the audit. The others never reached their service goal.

The report also found that, during the same period, the Baltimore area received more than three times the rate of customer service inquiries than the national average. Among major metropolitan areas, Baltimore had the second-highest rate of service requests, behind only Chicago.

During visits to all sites between June 22 and June 24, 2021, OIG identified a total of 972,457 delayed couriers.

Notably, when visiting the Dundalk branch on June 24, the OIG found mail postmarked December 2020 that had not been delivered.

The report also revealed that branch management did not accurately report delayed mail to the daily customer service reporting system, which prevented them from adequately responding to processing and delivery issues. Additionally, carriers were not properly scanning packages so that customers could track them in real time.

The pandemic has dealt a blow to the nine branches examined, each of which received an increase in parcel volume from April 2020, increasing the workload of carriers responsible for 276 urban routes studied as part of the audit. .

Branch management told OIG that staffing shortages were the biggest cause of delivery delays, noting that many hours of authorized COVID-19 leave were taken by carriers between March and April 2021.

Until May 2021, management only had the capacity to train seven new carriers at a time. The Baltimore area has since opened a second training center, bringing the number of trainees to 21.

While the report acknowledges that the pandemic has impacted employee availability, the OIG found that better hiring, training and retention processes would have reduced delays, noting that the number of part-time letter carriers was systematically below the authorized ceiling and that postmen who were no longer working were often left on the lists of employees.

Republican state lawmakers joined Mfume, Ruppersberger and other members of the Maryland congressional delegation to Tuesday morning news conference to the conclusions of the audit report.

“I told someone this morning the blame game is over. We have the audit, we have the paperwork going on, we have the plan,” Del. Richard W. Metzgar (R-Baltimore County) said. Now we have to forget the words and put the plan and the progress.

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