Proposed Closing of Postal Inspection Service Division Office in Chattanooga, Tennessee

GGD-81-65: Published: May 8, 1981. Publicly Released: May 11, 1981.

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The Postal Inspection Service is responsible for investigating all crimes related to the delivery of mail or use of the mail service and for performing financial and program audits of postal operations. In March 1980, the Inspection Service announced plans to consolidate activities in the Southern Region by closing its Chattanooga division office and transferring the management and administrative functions of that office to its Atlanta and Memphis division offices. GAO was requested to review the effect of the reorganization on operations, costs, and personnel.

GAO found that although Postal Service organizational elements have strict procedures for planning and approving office consolidations, the Inspection Service does not. Consideration given to some relevant issues associated with the consolidation was not adequately documented prior to the Inspection Service's decision to close the Chattanooga division office. News of the Inspection Service's plan was leaked, and the Chattanooga division employees, many of whom would lose their jobs, first heard of the closing through rumors and an article in the local newspaper. Division employees were angered by the way the consolidation was announced and the manner in which they were subsequently treated. If the consolidation takes place as planned, many of the support personnel and some of the inspectors will suffer adverse effects. The consolidation would likely have little impact on the local economy, and the level of service should not suffer as a result of the consolidation. Savings would undoubtedly result from the consolidation, but GAO questions the amount estimated by the Inspection Service, about $700,000 annually, assuming that 28 positions could be eliminated. GAO estimated potential savings of about $484,000 per year on the basis of eliminating 17 positions.

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