Postal Service is falling short in providing service to the Military

Mail service to military bases or diplomatic posts abroad might not look like “mail call” of yore, but it can have the same effect: It boosts morale. High-quality mail service provides a valuable link between loved ones at home and those serving our country afar.

The U.S. Postal Service partners with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of State (DoS) to deliver mail to domestic and overseas military facilities, as well as to overseas DoS personnel. Most international military and diplomatic mail arrives at the Chicago International Service Center (ISC), with outbound mail processed by the Chicago International Military Service Center (CIMSC) section of the facility. Inbound mail is sent to other processing facilities.

Outbound mail is then transported to the foreign destination, where it is eventually tendered to either DoD or DoS officials, who then handle subsequent sorting and delivery.

Unfortunately, the Postal Service is falling short in providing service, our recent audit report found. Military and diplomatic outbound mail processed at the Chicago CIMSC was delayed in 2018 and 2019 for a few reasons. Notably, mail arrived late to the CIMSC, and there were hold-ups in both accepting and processing mail at the CIMSC. We also determined that staff errors in labeling mail sacks resulted in mail being sent to the wrong destination and certain operations led to broken or damaged packages.

Ultimately, ineffective oversight of operations at the facilities was the cause of many of the problems. We recommended the Postal Service evaluate a process for scanning individual pieces to larger containers and then determine a method for using the scan data to measure time between acceptance and departure. The Postal Service agreed with our recommendations and has started corrective actions.

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