USPS OIG Issues Report On Allegations Of Fraud, Delayed Mail In the Philadelphia District

Excerpts from USPS Office of Inspector General 43-page report

This report presents the results of a joint review of allegations at the Philadelphia Customer Service District, Philadelphia, PA, by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Office of Investigations and Office of Audit (Project Number 09XG007NO001). This review was initiated at the request of U.S. Postal Service management to determine the validity of allegations concerning mail processing, delivery, transportation, and customer service operations

Of the 18 allegations, one was substantiated; seven were partially substantiated; and 10 were not substantiated. The details of the substantiated allegation involving report
falsification of delayed First-Class Mail® (FCM) and Standard Mail® is covered in a separate investigative report.1 The remaining findings resulted from process failures,
not from conspicuously bad conduct or intentional actions to misrepresent conditions.
The substantiated allegation involved the understatement of delayed mail volumes. The Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) reported about 19,000 delayed pieces of FCM in fiscal year (FY) 2008, while other similar-sized facilities had an average of 1.5 million pieces for the same period.

The partially substantiated allegations involved:

• Inadequate processes to ensure that a small amount of mail was not being destroyed.
• Philadelphia carrier units delayed more mail than the national average during the period reviewed.
• Mail transported to a plant and returned unprocessed based on a miscommunication.
• Inadequate processes, equipment problems, and insufficient labeling that did not ensure the timely delivery of some FCM, including Business Reply Mail, prescription drugs, and laboratory samples.

The following allegations were not substantiated.

• Undercounted mail volumes.
• Color-coding changed to make it appear as if mail was not late.
• Chronic understaffing.
• Year-long overtime ban.
• Falsified mail volume reports so management could receive performance bonuses.
• Understaffed carrier operations.
• Late or irregular delivery.
• Underreported carrier mail volumes.
• Carrier overtime prohibited.
• Mail shipped to other plants to exclude it from mail counts or hidden in trailers.

The Philadelphia Customer Service District experienced periods of increased on-hand volumes, delayed mail, and customer complaints from October 2007 through December 2008.

We based the conclusions in this report on observations and interviews that began on December 8, 2008. We cannot attest to any incidents that may have occurred prior to
this date that could affect our conclusions. We conducted analyses and evaluated trends, which were also used to support our conclusions.

see full OIG report for outline of the 18 allegations (PDF) 

Related link: News story that prompted OIG investigation