BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A recent audit has found that a U.S. Postal Service hub in Baltimore is processing millions of fewer pieces of mail compared to last year, even though work hours and overtime have gone up significantly.

The audit was initiated by the USPS Office of Inspector General in response to scrutiny from members of the Maryland Delegation—Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and Kweisi Mfume, along with Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen—who expressed concerns about missing mail and delayed deliveries.

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The audit found that faulty equipment and a lack of management at the Fayette Street facility were among the factors that resulted in diminished productivity, the lawmakers said.

“This audit confirms what we’ve been hearing for months from constituents and saw on paper in the OIG’s previous audit released last month,” the lawmakers said. “Chronic mismanagement, persistent vacancies and inoperable equipment are contributing to unacceptable mail service that is causing our constituents frustration and even financial hardship.”

DOCUMENT: View a copy of the audit

The Postal Service said it is already taking steps to address issues at the Baltimore facility, which include shoring up holiday staffing and setting benchmarks for employee availability and delivery failures.

Auditors reviewed operations at the facility between August 2020 and this past July. They found that workers processed roughly 1.67 billion pieces of mail in that period, or about 70 million fewer items compared to the year before. Meanwhile, work hours rose by 14.6% and overtime was up 43.5%.

Additionally, the audit found that employee availability was 65%, well shy of the agency’s goal of 95%.

Auditors determined a lack of managers resulted in inadequate supervision, which contributed to lower productivity, a problem that was made worse by a hiring freeze imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy between August 2020 and May 2021.

They also found that employees have been moving mail from floor to floor because a machine that transferred mail within the facility has been out of service since March 2019. As a result, employees were spending two more hours each day moving mail, leading to additional delays.

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In addition, the audit found that more than one-third of trips from the facility were either late or extra trips.

Auditors made a series of recommendations intended to correct those issues, which are expected to be in place by the end of January.

A day after the lawmakers announced the findings of the audit, USPS outlined some improvements to its service in response to a letter that was sent to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on November 22.

The letter said that the Postal Service has hired 2,245 employees in Maryland since late August, it has opened a new mail carrier training academy for the Baltimore region, and it has added two new package sorting facilities and six additional delivery facilities in Maryland, among other things.

DOCUMENT: Read a copy of the letter

The lawmakers welcomed those measures but said there’s more work to be done.

“We hope increased staffing and the activation of additional mail facilities lead to a notable improvement after the poor service many have experienced over the past year,” the lawmakers said. “That said, the Postal Service still has more work ahead to implement recommendations from the Inspector General and to ensure the timely delivery of Marylanders’ mail.”

Sen. Van Hollen told WJZ that he is happy to hear about the improvements but said more action is needed.

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“The post office is responding and we’re hearing from constituents that things are improving but that just tells us that we need to keep the pressure on,” Van Hollen said.

Stetson Miller