Postal Service:

Service Impact of South Dakota Mail Facility Not Fully Recognized

GGD-93-62: Published: Feb 25, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1993.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Postal Service's planned changes in mail services to several rural communities in South Dakota scheduled to be served by a new area mail processing center, focusing on the effects the proposed central facility will have on postal customers.

GAO found that: (1) the Service believes that the central area processing facility will improve mail service for most customers; (2) most postal patrons in the affected communities believe the facility will lengthen delivery times and increase some of their costs; (3) the Service used delivery standards rather than actual delivery performance to calculate service changes; (4) some service upgrades that the Service considers in justifying the new facility are not real, because the actual delivery times already meet the new standards; (5) some postal patrons expect to lose business due to the loss of overnight service; (6) postal patrons will lose their present bulk rate discount, and experience a significant increase in their mailing costs; (7) the longer distances involved and frequently adverse weather conditions will delay mail to and from the facility; and (8) postal patrons believe the Service should have consulted them before approving the facility, because the concept was designed for urban environments.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: After considering the complaints of postal customers in the affected area, the Postal Service made several changes to its plans for the consolidated mail facility. These included dropping one of the towns that was to be included, phasing in others one at a time to minimize disruptions in service, and maintaining certain services that were to be discontinued.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should consider costs and benefits of options that would address the community-impact issues discussed in this report.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: New area mail processing guidelines were issued by the Postal Service in April 1995. They require that customer satisfaction and community impact be fully explored and documented in future proposals for all area mail processing consolidations.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should, as a part of the Service's review of the area mail processing concept, include a requirement in the area mail processing guidelines to obtain and evaluate comments from affected communities before approving area mail processing consolidations in the future.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

 

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