USPS OIG – Elevator Modernization Program

Objective

Our objective was to determine whether the U.S. Postal Service is managing its elevator modernization program to minimize equipment downtime and the cost of repairs.

The Postal Service operates about 1,200 elevators at over 500 facilities, which includes passenger and freight elevators of various types and sizes. In November 2015, the Postal Service established the Elevator Modernization Program (EMP) to refurbish, upgrade, and modernize elevators at its facilities. The intent of the program was to improve elevator reliability for mail processing operations and ensure passenger elevators meet industry standards in terms of safety, reliability, performance, and aesthetics. Since January 2016, the EMP modernized 121 elevators at 53 facilities and expended about $146 million in capital commitments.

Finding

The Postal Service has a program in place to modernize elevators, which generally decreased repair costs, improved facilities, and had a positive impact on operations. At the individual project level, the EMP has standard operating procedures and internal control measures in place to meet schedule and budget goals. In a survey conducted during the audit, most respondents stated that EMP projects positively affected operations and were completed timely.

However, the Postal Service did not manage the EMP to minimize equipment downtime and the cost of repairs. Specifically, they did not monitor and track information in these areas to effectively measure program success. This occurred because the Postal Service did not formally establish program level goals, objectives, and measures for elevator downtime and repair costs to improve elevator safety, reliability, and performance. While management considered improving elevator reliability as a function of the EMP, they did not monitor, measure, or track information related to elevator downtime before or after completed modernization projects to identify improvement. Management also intended for the EMP to reduce elevator repair costs; however, they did not assess these costs before or after completed modernization projects to measure improvement.

Management focused on individual elevator project performance metrics such as adherence to the project budget, timelines, and completion as well as funding close out. Without program level goals, objectives, and measures in place for the EMP, management is hindered in their ability to identify project level issues or effectively measure program success, which includes elevator downtime, repair costs, and performance. Management did state that they intend to conduct a program evaluation in fiscal year 2021 and incorporate key performance indicators specific to the EMP when more projects are completed.

Recommendations

We recommended management develop and document program level goals, objectives, and measures for the EMP to assess elevator downtime, repair costs, and performance.

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How about updating some of the 45 year old mail sorting equipment. Management can lose a few pounds by taking the stairs.