USPS OIG reports on Emergency Suspension Process

SteveBlog, Slideshow

USPS OIG: In the last several months we’ve seen a lot of post offices suspend operations due to extreme weather. But natural disasters aren’t the only reason for emergency suspensions.

U.S. Postal Service district managers may also suspend the operations of any post office, station, or branch under its jurisdiction for:

  • Termination of a lease or rental agreement;
  • Lack of qualified personnel to operate the office;
  • Irreparable damage with no suitable alternate quarters available;
  • Severe damage to, or destruction of an office;
  • Challenge to the sanctity of the mail; and
  • Lack of adequate measures to safeguard the office or its revenue.

Phew, that’s a lot of reasons. So, it makes sense that district managers follow established policies and procedures. Our latest audit report indicates the Eastern Area fell short in that regard. Notably, district personnel did not consistently comply with policies and procedures to ensure suspension decisions had an independent review, customers were appropriately notified, required approvals were obtained, or action plans were developed.

We reviewed the Eastern Area because it had 94 emergency suspensions in fiscal year 2017, or 28 percent of the total 331 nationwide — the most of any area.

Our report also noted that policies and procedures need to be improved so that district personnel can approve and resolve suspensions in a timely manner. The procedures should also include communication requirements, such as informing the public of suspension status throughout the process. We recommended the Postal Service develop standard operating procedures that are more comprehensive regarding roles and responsibilities, deliverables, monitoring, and communication protocols.

Comment here, and read the report here.

STAGES IN DISCONTINUANCE PROCESS
1   Request/approval to study for discontinuance               
2   Notice (if appropriate) to Headquarters of suspension Organizations Notify               
3   Notice (if appropriate) to customers/district personnel of suspension               
4   Highway map with community highlighted               
5   Inspection Service/local law enforcement vandalism reports               
6   Form 4920, Post Office Fact Sheet            
7  NEPA Worksheet               
8  Financial Workbook                
9  Recommendation and Service Replacement Type          
10  PM Letter Instructions Cover letter, questionnaire, and enclosures                
11   Community meeting roster               
12   Community meeting letter (Need to set before questionnaire if not held before)             
13   Proposal checklist             
14   District notification to Government Affairs             
15   Instructions to postmaster/OIC to post proposal              
16   Invitation for comments exhibit              
17   Proposal exhibit                
18   Comment form exhibit           
19   Instructions for postmaster/OIC to remove proposal             
20  Postal Service response letters to returned customer questionnaires              
21   Analysis of questionnaires              
22   Community meeting analysis            
23   Round-date stamped proposals and invitations for comments from affected offices         
24  Notification of taking proposal and comments under internal consideration        
25  Postal Service response letters to returned Proposal comments            
26   Proposal Analysis of comments          
27   Petition and Postal Service response letter (if appropriate)            
28   Congressional inquiry and Postal Service response letter (if appropriate)         
29   Log of Post Office discontinuance actions           
30   Final determination from HEADQUARTERS (Review the Final Determination prior to sending for Hq approval)    
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STAGES IN DISCONTINUANCE PROCESS
1   Request/approval to study for discontinuance               
2   Notice (if appropriate) to Headquarters of suspension Organizations Notify               
3   Notice (if appropriate) to customers/district personnel of suspension               
4   Highway map with community highlighted               
5   Inspection Service/local law enforcement vandalism reports               
6   Form 4920, Post Office Fact Sheet            
7  NEPA Worksheet               
8  Financial Workbook                
9  Recommendation and Service Replacement Type          
10  PM Letter Instructions Cover letter, questionnaire, and enclosures                
11   Community meeting roster               
12   Community meeting letter (Need to set before questionnaire if not held before)             
13   Proposal checklist             
14   District notification to Government Affairs             
15   Instructions to postmaster/OIC to post proposal              
16   Invitation for comments exhibit              
17   Proposal exhibit                
18   Comment form exhibit           
19   Instructions for postmaster/OIC to remove proposal             
20  Postal Service response letters to returned customer questionnaires              
21   Analysis of questionnaires              
22   Community meeting analysis            
23   Round-date stamped proposals and invitations for comments from affected offices         
24  Notification of taking proposal and comments under internal consideration        
25  Postal Service response letters to returned Proposal comments            
26   Proposal Analysis of comments          
27   Petition and Postal Service response letter (if appropriate)            
28   Congressional inquiry and Postal Service response letter (if appropriate)         
29   Log of Post Office discontinuance actions           
30   Final determination from HEADQUARTERS (Review the Final Determination prior to sending for Hq approval)    
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