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GAO discussed the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) response to the increased demand for mail delivery services in northern Virginia and San Diego, California, areas experiencing rapid population growth and related increases in mail volume. GAO noted that: (1) USPS allowed northern Virginia mail delivery problems, which were largely due to inadequate resources to handle the increased mail volume, to become a major management problem before assigning employees from other post offices to deliver backlogged mail and to identify and correct the underlying causes of delivery problems; (2) management instability contributed to northern Virginia's mail delivery problems, while San Diego management remained stable; (3) although San Diego mail customers did not express as much dissatisfaction with mail delivery services as northern Virginia customers did, there was an upward trend in San Diego customers' complaints about delayed and misdelivered mail; (4) the San Diego post office hired additional mail carriers in 1989, but projected that 1990 hiring limitations could present mail delivery challenges; (5) USPS approved the construction of major mail processing facilities for both areas, which also needed new post offices; and (6) construction delays with San Diego projects have resulted in overcrowded working conditions at some facilities and the need to lease temporary space. GAO believes that the San Diego post office recognizes the need to take corrective action to prevent mail delivery problems from reaching the levels experienced in northern Virginia.

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