Mail collection boxes, first introduced in 1858, are used primarily to collect mail from customers. Nationwide, there were about 153,000 collection boxes at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2016; however, the U.S. Postal Service has been removing under used boxes, with almost 14,000 boxes removed over the past five years. The Postal Service should evaluate under used boxes for relocation and may remove them with Area Manager, Delivery Programs Support approval, and posting a 30-day notice on the box before it is removed.
According to the Collection Point Management System (CPMS), the Capital Metro Area had 13,709 collection boxes on October 1, 2015, and removed 275 collection boxes in FY 2016. Reasons for the removals included multiple boxes at a location, property owners requested their removal, and box tampering.
The CPMS also indicated there were 467 out-of-service collection boxes for more than a week, as of September 30, 2016. Collection boxes are typically placed out-of-service for less than a week when the box is being replaced or repaired, or is temporarily inaccessible.
Our objective was to assess the process used to remove collection boxes or to place them out-of-service in the Capital Metro Area.
What the OIG Found
The Capital Metro Area and its eight districts had not established an adequate process for removing or placing collection boxes in an out-of-service status to ensure all collection box removal decisions were properly approved by area management and adequate public notice was given to customers. In FY 2016, 255 of 275 collection boxes were deleted from the CPMS without evidence of Capital Metro Area approval. In addition, 418 of 467 collection boxes listed in the CPMS as out-of-service as of September 30, 2016 had been permanently removed from the street without evidence of area approval and 305 of 418 out-of-service boxes were removed permanently without evidence of public notification to customers.
These conditions occurred because there was limited area and district oversight to approve and validate collection box removals. In addition, there were no procedures to consistently monitor collection boxes reported as out-of-service longer than seven days.
The improper removal of established collection boxes may adversely impact public reaction and prevent area and district management from ensuring proper collection service levels are provided to the public. In addition, improper removals may reduce the Postal Service’s brand awareness.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management revise their collection box removal process to ensure written approval is obtained from area management prior to all collection box removals and supporting documentation is maintained for removal decisions. We also recommended management establish a process to monitor out-of-service collection boxes, including obtaining approvals and public notification.