An USPS-conducted audit of the Germantown Post Office found widespread operational problems ranging from missing keys to scanning issues.
An USPS-conducted audit of the Germantown Post Office, which has long been the subject of complaints about poor service and untimely mail delivery, found widespread operational problems ranging from missing keys to scanning issues, according to a report released Jan. 10. The audit was requested by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Dwight Evans.
In a statement, USPS district manager Edward Williams said his office agrees with the findings and has “begun taking steps” to solve the problems.
According to the audit, more than half the keys used by mail carriers to open the big blue collection boxes on city sidewalks – known as arrow keys – are routinely “unaccounted for.” The report stated that of the 40 keys assigned to that post office, nine were not listed in the inventory log and 17 that were listed on the log could not be located.
Missing arrow keys, the audit report states, can result in an increased threat of undelivered mail and even mail theft.
“These thefts damage the Postal Service’s reputation and diminish public trust in the nation’s mail system,” the report said.
The audit blamed the post office’s management for the missing arrow keys, saying that it “did not properly manage and safeguard arrow keys because they did not have proper oversight of their inventory.”
“Specifically, management had carriers share the keys and did not have them sign in and out for the keys as accountability was transferred from one carrier to another,” the report clarified. “Instead, management would gather the keys at the end of the night to see if they were all there and, if not, they would wait until the following day and ask the carrier if they had the key.”
The audit also noted that between July and September 2022, nearly half - 49.87% - of routine deliveries were in fact scanned by carriers as “Delivery Attempted – No Access to Delivery Location.”
Of 38 packages randomly selected by the audit team within the post office, five weren’t scanned at all, three were scanned “Delivery Attempted – No Access” despite not being scanned near the actual delivery address and one was scanned “Delivered” despite still being in the post office.
USPS’s Eastern Area Office spokesperson Paul Smith wouldn’t say whether carriers were improperly scanning packages deliberately or by accident. He also wouldn’t say whether any of the post office’s employees had been fired in the wake of the report.
The audit pinned the blame on the management.
“These scanning issues occurred because unit management did not adequately monitor and enforce proper package scanning and handling procedures,” the audit stated.
According to the audit, one supervisor blamed the scanning issues on a malfunctioning tool. She received an updated version of the tool the day after her discussion with the audit team, according to the audit report.
The audit also found numerous problems with the Germantown building itself, including outdated fire extinguishers, a front entrance door that does not close properly and an inoperable toilet in the women’s restroom.
In September, Smith told the Local that the Germantown Post Office was suffering from a shortage of staffing, which was a root cause of many of its service issues. In a follow up last week, Smith said the Germantown Post Office’s staffing was now “adequate,” but was still “looking to strengthen our workforce with additional personnel.”
The USPS is holding two job fairs in the neighborhood with the intention of recruiting more employees, Smith said.
The first is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Germantown Post Office, located at 5209 Greene Street. The second will be Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the East Germantown Post Office, located at 2031 66th Ave. Both fairs will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Evans called the audit “an important step” in rectifying issues at the Germantown Post Office.
“Now we look forward to receiving the official response from Postal Service leadership regarding actions they plan to take to prevent incidents of negligence like those highlighted in the report,” he said.