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Audit finds defects, undelivered mail at Postal Service’s new processing facility

RICHMOND, Virginia — An audit by the Postal Service’s inspector general found significant problems at a new regional processing facility in Virginia, including water-damaged mail left unprocessed for months and a worker asleep in front of a forklift.

The audit, dated March 28, raises questions about the Postal Service’s plans to modernize its processing network. The Richmond facility that was the subject of the audit is the first of 60 planned regional fulfillment centers that USPS is launching nationwide and are expected to streamline. operations and improve efficiency.

But the audit found that problems at the Richmond center, which opened in July, contributed to a decline in on-time service that now ranks Virginia worst in the nation. The inspector general said only 66% of first-class mail was delivered within two days in the current fiscal year, compared to the national average of 87%. No other region in the United States fell below 80%, according to the inspector general’s office.

The Postal Service estimated the $23 million facility would produce $15 million in savings annually by consolidating operations. But the audit found that work hours and overtime actually increased after the center opened.

“At this time, it is unclear whether the Postal Service will realize the expected savings associated with consolidating operations into the Richmond Regional Processing Center,” the audit concludes.

Auditors also said they discovered “a general inattention to detail that resulted in mail being left on or around machines, large quantities of machinable mail during manual processing, and, in one case, mail more than two months old being left in a container in the trucking yard.” They also observed a postman sleeping on a parked forklift.

Postal Service officials responded to the audit and said they agreed with most of the 10 specific recommendations for improvement made in the inspector general’s report.

“We have made significant efforts to thoroughly address these challenges and issues at Richmond, which has led to continued performance improvement,” officials said in their official response to the audit.

Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, released a joint statement with U.S. Reps. Jennifer McClellan, D-Va., Bobby Scott, D=Va., Rob Wittman, R-Va., Abigail Spanberger , D-Va., Bob Good, R-Va., and Jen Kiggans, R-Va., calling on the USPS to address the problems identified in the report.

“It could not be clearer that USPS has failed to provide reliable service to Virginians, and we have pressed for answers. This report identifies a number of issues, including a lack of coordination between USPS and staff at the Richmond Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC),” the lawmakers said. “The USPS must provide more resources and clearer guidance to RPDC leadership and staff, among other measures.”

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