Postal Service:

Planned Benefits of Iowa Automated Mail Facility Not Realized

GGD-94-78: Published: Apr 8, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether automated mail processing at the Waterloo, Iowa, mail facility has saved money and improved delivery service.

GAO found that: (1) automated mail processing operations at the Waterloo facility have not saved money or improved productivity as planned; (2) despite the introduction of automated equipment, labor productivity has decreased; (3) transportation costs have increased because of equipment upgrades and route changes; (4) some locations are no longer scheduled to receive overnight mail delivery, and the percentage of mail delivered on time to other overnight locations has decreased; (5) postal officials have not performed post-implementation consolidation reviews to determine if their goals were met; and (6) although postal officials believed that consolidated mail processing at Waterloo would not affect postal customers, the facility began receiving complaints alleging degraded service shortly after it consolidated operations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service conducted an investigation to determine why planned savings were not achieved. It determined that transportation costs were higher than planned because the facility needed to expand truck routes and add larger trucks to honor its service commitments. The Service also determined that labor costs exceeded the amount planned because, as originally configured, the facility could not handle the volume of mail that was encountered, and had to continue mail processing at another facility to prevent backlogs. The Service reported that by upgrading the equipment at the facility, it had corrected this problem and was now capturing the labor savings and productivity envisioned in the consolidation plan.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should direct that the required investigation of the Waterloo consolidation be done to determine why planned savings were not achieved and, if possible, address the causes in order to capture savings.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service suspended plans to move mail processing operations from Decorah, IA into the facility in Waterloo in conformance with the general moratorium that the Service has placed on all pending area mail processing consolidations.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should defer plans to consolidate mail processing operations from Decorah, Iowa, into the Waterloo Center until the postimplementation review is complete.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service's revised guidelines for planning and implementing area mail processing consolidations were issed in April 1995. They include a requirement that area mail consolidations undergo a postimplementation review to ensure that intended cost benefits are achieved.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should include and enforce a requirement for postimplementation reviews of mail processing consolidations in the new area mail processing guidelines.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

 

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