Postal Service:

How the Postal Service Dealt With the Edmond, Oklahoma, Tragedy

GGD-88-78: Published: Jun 16, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how the Postal Service (USPS) dealt with the mass murder of 14 postal service employees that occurred at its Edmond, Oklahoma, post office.

GAO found that USPS: (1) provided immediate assistance to the victims' families in obtaining life insurance and burial benefits and unpaid compensation, resulting in 13 families receiving at least 90 percent of their entitled lump sum benefits within 45 days after the tragedy; (2) provided immediate and long-term counseling assistance for victims' families and post office employees; (3) left long-term crisis management up to the Edmond post office and Oklahoma City Division Office; and (4) lacked contingency plans that considered the effects of trauma and disasters on its operations, employees, and customers. GAO also found that: (1) some victims' families alleged that USPS failed to provide promised assistance in obtaining benefits and handled some situations insensitively; (2) the Oklahoma City Division decided to provide further assistance only if families requested it and did not contact families to determine if they needed assistance or received benefits they were entitled to; and (3) Edmond's postmaster neither asked for nor received assistance in his attempts to restore post office operations and deal with unique crisis management problems, such as coping with employees' trauma, screening volunteer and counseling assistance, coordinating community support, and controlling the surge of media personnel and visitors. In addition, GAO found that the Postmaster General has directed that USPS develop contingency plans to guide response to traumatic events.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USPS issued a contingency plan with principles of crisis management.

    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should include, within the contingency plan being prepared by the Assistant Postmaster General, principles of crisis management developed by organizations in both the public and private sectors for dealing with the effects of traumatic events and disasters on their operations, employees, and customers.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service


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