The Center Square: Trio of Philadelphia post offices fixing delivery issues after audit

(The Center Square) – Three Philadelphia post offices have agreed to take corrective action after the office responsible for overseeing their operations found multiple service issues.

State lawmakers pressed the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General to perform an audit of the Germantown Station after years of complaints from residents. The OIG widened the scope of the audit to include a total of six delivery units which included three in Delaware.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-PA, and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, recently released the results of the audit, which found issues with delayed mail, package and truck arrival scanning, property conditions, and arrow key controls – which are keys used by carriers to access locked mailboxes on their routes.

While they recognized the “extraordinary circumstances” USPS has been operating under in recent years, due to staffing shortages and increased demands brought on by COVID-19, they said “quality service is not optional; it is essential.”

In a statement, Casey said the results of the audit will come as no surprise to the residents who have been dealing with delayed or missing mail for years. It was encouraging, he added, that the audit included recommendations on addressing the issues as well as a commitment from USPS to make corrections by the end of March.

Evans said he is hopeful their requested audit will result in improvements in the near future. He also wants residents to know that he and Casey “will stay on the case.”

In addition to the Germantown Station, the audit included Logan and North Philadelphia stations, as well as three units in Wilmington, Delaware.

The three Philadelphia facilities combined serve over 219,000 people on 135 routes.

Insufficient and inexperienced staff, being unaware of required procedures, and juggling other tasks were some of the common reasons given by management for the issues found.

Recommendations made by the OIG were agreed to by Postal Service management. The report says action has already been taken on some issues and a commitment was made to complete the remainder by the end of the month.

Bill Triplett, spokesperson for USPS OIG told The Center Square they cannot legally require the Postal Service to follow its recommendations. However, there is a process by which they are agreed to, and closed, upon the satisfaction of the OIG.

A resolution process is also in place should the Postal Service disagree with a recommendation – any not acted upon and left open are reported to Congress until a resolution is achieved to the OIG’s satisfaction, Triplett said.

Paul F. Smith, of USPS’s Eastern Area Office told The Center Square carriers in their district make daily deliveries to a few million customers from almost 1,000 post offices. The area they cover includes Philadelphia and Delaware, extends up into the Lehigh Valley, and out to Wilkes Barre.

“Every day we strive to provide consistent and reliable delivery to our customers,” Smith said.

Approximately every two weeks, USPS provides updates on their services. On March 3, they reported 91% of First-Class Mail was delivered on time and 96% of the nation’s population receives their mail in less than three days. They say they are “working hard to correct service-related issues on the other limited areas.”