Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

USPS OIG – Network Modernization: The Changing Role of Postmasters

May 23, 2024
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Background

The U.S. Postal Service is modernizing its network to standardize operations and gain efficiencies as part of its Delivering for America plan. One key effort is to transfer delivery operations from multiple post offices into a new Sorting and Delivery Center (S&DC). These changes impact the daily roles of postmasters at both the S&DC (hub) and losing office (spokes). For example, while the number of carrier routes could triple for an S&DC postmaster, all carrier routes and related delivery operations at a spoke post office could be transferred to the associated S&DC. Updating postmaster roles and workloads to reflect these changing operations will be crucial to capturing efficiencies and ensuring productivity as more than 60 S&DCs are scheduled to be activated by September 2024 (involving at least 175 spoke offices).

What We Did

Our objective was to review the changing role of postmasters in offices impacted by S&DC implementations. We observed operations at judgmentally selected S&DC and spoke offices; interviewed Postal Service officials; and reviewed related polices.

What We Found

While the Postal Service’s strategy for managing the changing role of S&DC postmasters was adequate, it was inadequate for spoke postmasters.Management officials said they provided spoke postmasters general guidance to fill the new workhour gap, such as assisting at the S&DC. However, some spoke postmasters raised concerns about the productivity and long-term sustainability of these interim assignments. Postmasters also were unsure how their offices’ space utilization and individual performance assessments would be affected. The flawed strategy for managing changing spoke postmaster roles and workload hinders office efficiency.

These issues occurred because the overly general strategy did not include detailed procedures for updating postmaster roles (including workload expectations) and space utilization for affected spoke offices. Management should specify responsible parties and processes for analyzing office conditions, evaluating alternatives, communicating decisions, and monitoring performance. Enhanced communication to affected postmasters on performance assessment changes could prevent further uncertainties.

Recommendations

We made two recommendations to address the issues identified in the report. Postal Service management agreed to both. Management’s comments and our evaluation are at the end of each finding and recommendation. We consider management’s comments responsive to all recommendations and the corrective actions should resolve the issues identified in the report.

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