It makes no difference what part of the country you’re in, post offices nationwide are in need of upkeep and repair. A majority of post office lobbies we reviewed in the Eastern Area have many of the same problems found in other areas.
We are nearly done with our series of audits on postal retail facility conditions in all seven U.S. Postal Service areas, which we reviewed to determine if USPS management is adhering to building maintenance and to standards for safety, security standards, and employee working conditions. Problems in the Eastern Area post offices were similar to other areas and included:
- More than 60 percent of facilities reviewed had building safety and security issues as well as potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations.
- Almost half of facilities had cleanliness and maintenance issues.
- Nearly 70 percent did not maintain a customer complaint log or monitor how promptly complaints are resolved.
Our previous audits done over the past year found that building appearance problems ranged from mold and signs of rodent and bug infestation to poor landscaping and foliage growing inside the facility. Other problems included deteriorating metal or wood on door frames, filthy exhaust or ventilation fans, and exposed furnace fires.
We found that the conditions were due, in some cases, to landlords failing to perform requested repairs, or failing to complete the repairs. In other cases, local management said competing priorities interfered with general maintenance and repairs or following up on customer complaints. And at times, local postal management blamed budget constraints.
Local management began taking corrective action on certain issues raised in all the reports, in particular on putting up safety posters, unblocking obstructed doors and exits, and securing unlocked vehicles. We made a series of recommendations on developing a process to improve coordination among facilities personnel, managers at post offices, and lessors to resolve repair issues in a timely fashion.
Improving facility conditions is important, of course, from a safety and security perspective. It’s also important from a strategic one. The post office is the business office of the Postal Service and often the only close-up look at postal operations that many customers get. Post offices are the Postal Service’s “face” to the public. Their appearance directly affects the USPS public image.
Next on our review list will be looking at conditions at processing facilities. Please comment below if you have insights to share on processing facilities in your area.