Tester calls on Postmaster General to fire those who intentionally delayed mail

Postal vans sit outside the U.S. Post Office in Misosula. (Missoula Current)

The findings of an investigation released by the Office of Inspector General last month suggested postal workers intentionally slowed the delivery of more than 2 billion mailed items over one year’s time, prompting Sen. Jon Tester to call on postal leaders to fire those responsible.

Tester said the findings of the report, which suggest that supervisors intentionally delayed mail to meet arbitrary quotas and goals, was unacceptable.

In a letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, Tester urged the USPS to fix the problem and ensure that small businesses and others receive timely service.

“Any employee who deliberately delayed mail delivery or who knowingly misreported mail delivery should be terminated for violating the trust of America’s hardworking taxpayers and postal ratepayers,” Tester wrote. “Inaccurate reporting of delayed mail has cost the Postal Service severely at a time when its reputation and earnings are in dire need of rehabilitation.”

According to the report released in August by the Office of Inspector General, several postal facilities underreported the number of mailpieces on hand by several thousand. It also suggested the employees were not properly trained and supervised in counting and reporting delayed mail.

Of the eight facilities analyzed, including four urban and four rural postal centers, none included all late-arriving mail in their reports. The investigation found 1.8 million pieces of late-arriving mail over the course of a week, though the facilities reported just 121,000 pieces, or less than 7 percent.

“We projected that nationally, from March 1, 2016, through February 28, 2017, mail processing facilities underreported late-arriving mail by about 2 billion mail pieces,” the report states.

In Monday’s letter, Tester noted the Inspector General’s report, which suggests that delays in mail reporting cost the Postal Service more than $85 million in revenue at a time when it’s struggling to stay afloat.

At the same time, Tester said, First Class Mail – one of the Postal Service’s most profitable services – saw its volumes decline by more than 4 percent in the third quarter of this fiscal year.

“The Office of Inspector General found that according to Postal Service Network Operations management, no formal training for conducting daily mail counts even exists,” Tester wrote. “This is not only a clear oversight of management at the Postal Service, but it also implies the Postal Service may be overlooking other essential tasks at postal and delivery centers across the country.”

According to the report, mail processing centers are required to complete daily counts and self-report any mail on hand, including delayed mail, late-arriving mail and mail processed after the cut-off time.

Mail processing personnel are expected to complete their daily mail counts each morning by 7 a.m.

“I stand ready to assist in your responsibility to bolster the Postal Service and help it meet the needs of the American public,” Tester told Brennan in his letter. “But that begins with your commitment to get rid of any supervisors or senior managers who intentionally provided inaccurate reports of delayed mail.”