USPS OIG Suggests Using GPS Technology For Management Of City Letter Carriers Street Activities

 Excerpts from the USPS Office Of Inspector General’s report

This report presents the results of our response to a Postmaster General request on Management of City Letter Carriers’ Street Performance (Project Number 08XG026DR001). The objective was to determine if management could strengthen controls to reduce carrier misconduct. This review addresses operational risk.

More than 222,000 city letter carriers deliver mail for the U.S. Postal Service. In recent years, the U. S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) Office of Investigations
(OI) has found a small percentage of carriers engaging in misconduct, ranging from theft of time to inappropriate behavior, while delivering the mail. Management was not
always aware of the misconduct for two main reasons.

• City carriers are usually unsupervised during street delivery, especially when compared to the supervision received while casing mail in the office.

• Delivery unit management did not always effectively use available controls, such as performing street observations and reviewing operational reports that could help identify these situations.

We also found opportunities for the Postal Service to use controls such as Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and the city letter carriers national labor agreement discipline and compensation provisions as options to thwart these occurrences. More attention to preventing and identifying these incidents when they do occur may help the Postal Service avoid, among other things, payments to carriers for time that did not involve legitimate activities and the potential damage to the Postal Service’s brand and reputation.

Carrier Misconduct

In the last 3 years, the OIG OI initiated 1,0311 cases involving city letter carriers allegedly engaging in non-work activities on routes. Examples include 319 cases involving theft of government time, 301 inappropriate conduct cases, and 263 cases involving alcohol- and narcotics-related offenses.

The Chicago District is currently testing GPS technology on 500 routes, and the technology is having some success in reducing overtime hours. Moreover, the
installation of GPS technology provides a greater opportunity to monitor route activities in real time and reduce undue city letter carriers’ time charges. The OIG’s analysis of
overtime found monetary savings of $1,040,235 can be achieved through deployment of 400 GPS devices2 in the Chicago District over the next 2 fiscal years (FY).

Study the costs and benefits of converting the existing city letter carrier hourly compensation system to an evaluated compensation system similar to that of rural
letter carriers. The analysis should include the Postal Service costs being incurred for street observations and grievances.

Management stated the concept of moving the city carrier hourly compensation to more of an elevated compensation system similar to rural letter carriers is desirable; however, many previous efforts to move in this direction have not been successful. Management plans to continue studying the feasibility and exploring all options to move city letter carriers to a more rural-like compensation system.

see full report (PDF)