Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

USPS OIG – USPS Cremated Remains procedures need improvement

July 6, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

Background

The U.S. Postal Service is the only courier that ships cremated remains. Maintaining proper handling of cremated remains as a service is vital to the Postal Service’s customer satisfaction and brand image. The Postal Service requires cremated remains be shipped using Priority Mail Express service and has procedures in place to require these packages be timely processed and properly handled from end-to-end in the Postal Service network. However, the Postal Service still experiences issues, resulting in undeliverable and/ or unidentifiable Cremated Remains packages.

What We Did

This report responds to a congressional inquiry. Our objective was to assess the effectiveness of procedures for the acceptance, handling, and delivery of Cremated Remains. We interviewed Postal Service Headquarters officials, local management and employees, a third-party company, and outside stakeholders. We conducted site observations at four mail processing facilities and 16 delivery units.

What We Found

The Postal Service was not always in compliance with Cremated Remains acceptance procedures. Specifically, Cremated Remains packages were not always properly labeled. Additionally, the Postal Service has an opportunity to improve Cremated Remains acceptance procedures and did not always follow the procedures for monitoring Cremated Remains packages in the Postal Service network. Further, the Postal Service has an opportunity to help reduce potential missing and/or damaged Cremated Remains packages by enhancing packaging requirements. Lastly, we identified best practices for improving processing and handling of Cremated Remains packages.

Recommendations

We recommended management develop and implement a process for reoccurring communication of Cremated Remains acceptance procedures to retail clerks nationwide; develop and implement guidance requiring retail clerks to verify cremated remains are prepared and packaged in accordance with policy; update Cremated Remains acceptance procedures requiring retail clerks to place Cremated Remains packages in individual Priority Mail Express sacks at acceptance; reiterate the procedures for monitoring Cremated Remains and develop a process for validating review of the Informed Visibility report daily for delayed Cremated Remains packages; evaluate the feasibility of requiring customers to use the Cremated Remains kit boxes when shipping cremated remains and revise policy as appropriate; and develop a plan to ensure these kit boxes are readily available to customers.

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