Inspector general probes District of Columbia late mail

The cover of the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general’s recently published audit report titled City Letter Carriers Returning After 5 P.M. in the Capital District.

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

Is your mail arriving late in the day?

A new report from the U.S. Postal Service’s Inspector General says it’s a national problem that’s apparently getting worse as more mail-processing plants are being closed.

And no place is worse than Washington, D.C., where the Capital District has consistently ranked among the five districts across the country with the most letter carriers finishing their routes after 5 p.m.

The new report could become significant, because it is one of the first to point out a serious problem with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plant-closing agenda.

The inspector general blames the closings of two processing plants in the Washington area for the late deliveries, saying that supervisors fail to plan for the arrival of incoming mail in time for carriers to get on the streets early in the day.

The Postal Service has a goal of 95 percent of its carriers returning to the offices by 5 p.m.

But the audit said the nationwide average number of city letter carriers returning after 5 p.m. increased from 34,933 per day (25 percent) in fiscal year 2011 to 38,206 per day (29 percent) in fiscal year 2012 and 50,307 per day (38 percent) in fiscal year 2013.

That not only adds a huge amount of overtime to the Postal Service’s labor costs, but it has alarmed customers and led to carriers being placed in dangerous nighttime locations.

A part-time carrier was fatally shot in Maryland’s Prince George’s County as he was delivering mail at 7:30 p.m. last November. That crime has yet to be solved.

That murder prompted the inspector general’s investigation, titled City Letter Carriers Returning After 5 P.M. in the Capital District.

Postal Service officials told the inspector general they are taking steps to reduce the late delivery hours.

Published 7/25/2014 11:00 AM