WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Deb Haaland wrote to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan urging the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to implement recommendations made by a recent audit report issued by the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding serious deficiencies at post office facilities in Albuquerque. In their letter, the lawmakers called on USPS to address these troubling conditions and swiftly enact critical improvements, such as filling staff vacancies; maintaining safe and secure facilities; and ensuring the timely delivery of mail.
Last year, after hearing troubling reports from local postal union leaders, Udall and former Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham successfully requested a USPS Inspector General investigation into claims of unsafe conditions, staffing cutbacks, and delayed or unprocessed mail at post office facilities in Albuquerque. After its audit, the Inspector General issued a report finding that USPS facilities in Albuquerque failed to meet the necessary building maintenance, safety, and security standards, along with recommendations to address these issues. While the Inspector General report did not establish cases of undelivered mail, it did identify delays and missing information about mail processing before mail was sent out for delivery.
“We are writing to urge you to act swiftly to address recommendations issued in the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s (USPS OIG) recent audit report… which examined Facility Conditions, Delayed Mail, and Staffing Levels in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We have serious concerns about the report’s findings, which revealed building maintenance deficiencies including excessive roof leaks, unsanitary conditions, and structural issues… Subjecting customers and postal workers to unsafe or unsanitary conditions is unacceptable and related issues addressed in this report should be remedied by USPS immediately,” they continued.
The lawmakers also emphasized that “[a]ny delay in mail processing, scanning or delivery should not be tolerated by USPS as Americans heavily rely on timely delivery for critical documents, medicine and other items,” while urging USPS to move quickly to fill staffing vacancies and address all building maintenance, safety and security issues.
Finally, they requested regular updates on USPS’ efforts to ensure that the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented swiftly and effectively.
The full text of the letter is available here and below.
Megan J. Brennan
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-0010
Dear Postmaster General Brennan:
We are writing to urge you to act swiftly to address recommendations issued in the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s (USPS OIG) recent audit report number SM-AR-19-005 on May 29, 2019, which examined Facility Conditions, Delayed Mail, and Staffing Levels in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We supported this investigation after some of our offices received troubling reports of under-staffing, unsafe conditions and unprocessed mail from members of the American Postal Workers Union, Albuquerque Local 380.
We have serious concerns about the report’s findings, which revealed building maintenance deficiencies including excessive roof leaks, unsanitary conditions, and structural issues. In particular, the report found that “facilities reviewed in Albuquerque were not consistently maintained in accordance with applicable building safety, maintenance, and/ or security standards.” In fact, none of the 13 post offices visited adhered to security standards or building safety standards. Subjecting customers and postal workers to unsafe or unsanitary conditions is unacceptable and related issues addressed in this report should be remedied by USPS immediately.
While the auditors did not observe unprocessed and/or undelivered mail at any of the facilities, a serious allegation which had been reported to us, they did find that mail scanning was delayed at all of the Albuquerque Offices during their visits. Although they were not able to pinpoint why the scans were late, their findings indicate that “customer service operations clerks may have distributed mail to carriers and PO Box sections late.” Any delay in mail processing, scanning or delivery should not be tolerated by USPS as Americans heavily rely on timely delivery for critical documents medicine and other items.
We also support the report’s recommendation to fill customer service operations and maintenance operations vacancies. The report notes that “as of September 30, 2018, there were two maintenance and 13 customer service vacancies.” While the report found that vacancies did not have a “significant impact to poor facility maintenance and upkeep,” reports from union members and visits from members of our staff indicate that some of the Albuquerque post offices have only one staff member dedicated to facility maintenance. We have heard reports that in these instances if that one staff member is sick or if a position goes unfilled, unsanitary conditions have emerged without proper intervention by management.
Due to our concerns listed above and other findings in the report we ask that you quickly implement the following five major recommendations listed in the report.
1. Develop and implement an action plan to address roof issues at the Five Points Station, including a timeline for completing items.
2. Develop and implement an action plan to monitor and address the movement of cracks in concrete at the Albuquerque Main Post Office, including a timeline for hiring a structural engineer and completing items.
3. Develop and implement an action plan to address all building maintenance, safety and security issues identified during our audit, including a timeline for completing items.
4. Instruct customer service operations management to monitor, report and record all instances of delayed mail daily in the Customer Service Daily Reporting System.
5. Hire additional maintenance operations and customer service operations staff at applicable facilities up to the authorized staffing levels at appropriate locations
With your leadership, we believe that all of the recommendations to be addressed and closed out with the USPS OIG quickly. We would like regular updates on these efforts and to be informed when each of the five recommendations are closed. We look forward to your prompt response on this matter.