A new Inspector General report on the consolidation of the Lima processing center into Toledo shows a “staggering” level of service failure, according to Rep. Jim Jordan, who requested the audit. Jordan told the Lima News “The audit report confirms the worst of our suspicions. The USPS left area businesses and residents feeling the effects of their mismanagement through late delivery of time-sensitive mail like bills, prescription medication, and legal documents. Almost all of the problems could have been avoided with better planning and more effective management.”
Some of the OIG’s findings:
While there was a valid business case for the consolidation of the Lima P&DF into the Toledo P&DC, management did not ensure on-time performance and customer service were improved or maintained during the implementation of the consolidation. As a result, customers in Lima Zip Code 458 were negatively impacted. We found that significant degradations in service occurred after the Postal Service transferred all operations and volumes from the Lima P&DF to the Toledo P&DC and management did not project these degradations in the AMP proposal. While management actively addressed delayed mail issues, these service degradations continued when we completed our audit work in March 2011.
On-time performance and customer service declined in the first 3 months after the consolidation and this condition continued when we completed our audit work in March 2011. Following the Lima P&DF to the Toledo P&DC consolidation, customers in the Lima area reported delayed and lost mail concerns to the Postal Service, members of Congress and news publications. Service concerns described instances of delayed and non-receipt of medications and bill payments, advertising mail delivered after the in-home date, and late delivery to homes and businesses. In addition, the OIG received 410 public comments during a 35-day period from November 24 through December 29, 2010. Seventy-two percent, or 296 responses were delayed mail and late delivery complaints.
The report identified the causes of the plan’s failure:
- The AMP proposal understated daily first-handled piece (FHP) volume by approximately 7 percent.
- The Toledo P&DC did not adequately staff operations. According to the AMP proposal, management planned to transfer 41 employees to the Toledo P&DC; however, only 31 of the 41 employees reported. The other employees were no-shows, retreated to other positions, retired, or were on extended leave. Management did not create a contingency plan that would have minimized the risks of understaffing.
- Morning dispatches to Lima hub facilities were consistently departing the Toledo P&DC late.
- Postal Service policies did not require a formal AMP implementation team to ensure the AMP was implemented as approved. During our site visit, we observed delayed mail, extensive use of manual operations to sort parcels, proper signage not in place to indicate dispatch or critical entry time, and letter mail processed to carrier routes rather than Delivery Point Sequencing (DPS) due to inefficient sort plans.
- Management elected to transfer all operations and volume during the peak mailing season without adjusting mail flow and sort plans timely to meet operational changes. While the transition period was limited to six months (July through December 2010), management did not complete final planning for the consolidation until September 2010, almost four months after the AMP proposal was approved.