Our objective was to determine if the Postal Service is accurately measuring service availability for its Tier 1 business critical services.
The Postal Service monitors service availability for Tier 1 business critical services. These services support core business functions, such as moving the mail, delivery, revenue, and customer service. For example, Click-N-Ship and PostalOne! are Tier 1 business critical services. Outages related to Tier 1 business critical services may potentially cause a loss of current or future revenue and brand value or diminished customer experience.
The availability management process ensures that systems and services meet evolving business needs. In January 2018, management updated the Service Availability Policy, which defines service availability as the ability of an Information Technology service to perform its agreed upon function when required. The policy also states that availability should be calculated by subtracting planned or unplanned outages that occur during defined business hours.
What the OIG Found
We found that management is not accurately measuring availability for Tier 1 business critical services. For instance, management does not include planned and unplanned outages when calculating availability and they do not accurately capture unplanned outages related to the availability of Tier 1 services.
We also found the Postal Service established policy that defines service availability, the owners and processes related to service availability, and business criticality levels. However, it did not formally establish and document availability targets and acceptable hours for planned and unplanned downtime for Tier 1 business critical services in policy or service level agreements.
These issues occurred because management did not enforce compliance with policy that instructs personnel how to calculate availability. Further, there were no documented procedures for instructing personnel when to create a critical incident and no formal official availability target and management was not familiar with the best practice that recommends establishing and documenting acceptable hours of planned and unplanned downtime. However, during our audit, management took corrective action to update the documented procedures that included instructions for personnel to create a critical incident.
Without formal availability targets, the Postal Service cannot ensure that all Information Technology services are meeting customer availability needs in a cost-effective and timely manner, which could affect the Postal Service brand. Further, incorrect availability metrics could result in senior leaders relying on inaccurate information when making decisions.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management improve measurement of system availability by establishing and documenting availability targets and acceptable hours for planned and unplanned downtime for each application or service considered to be a Tier 1 business critical service and calculating availability in the appropriate management tools according to Postal Service policy.