Kaine reacts to USPS audit: ‘Virginians have been getting very poor service’

Posted at 11:59 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 12:34:40-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) acknowledged that the United States Postal Service has stonewalled communication with lawmakers and has made it difficult to visit one of their main operations in Henrico County.

“I deal with a lot of federal agencies. I take tours of federal facilities all the time. I've never had a harder experience getting in [the Richmond Processing and Distribution Center], getting answers, and getting a tour in any office,” Sen. Kaine told reporters during a Tuesday Zoom call.

Kaine shared his thoughts onan audit recently released by the U.S. Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General that shed light on why mail delivery has caused headaches across Central Virginia for months.

CBS 6 first reported on the Richmond Processing and Distribution Center, located in Sandston, which became the Postal Service's first Regional Processing and Distribution Center back in February.

It is part of USPS's 10-year "Delivering for America" plan, meant to consolidate operations from nearby facilities to "reduce transportation costs and improve service reliability."

“This is a new process. New processes takes some time to break in. I think the postal service might have tried to move too fast — or at least the upper levels of the postal service might have tried to move too fast with this reform without getting buy in from local managers and local workers,” said Kaine. “That's often a recipe for problems.”

The audit, dated March 28, suggests the $25.4 million project actually decreased service performance for the Richmond region for four months after the launch, and incurred additional labor and transportation costs totaling more than $8 million in questionable costs over those first four months of operation.

The audit says the Postal Service did not adequately prepare for the change, and that local management was "deficient in operational execution" and did not train all employees on standard work instructions for new mailing processes, among other criticisms.

CBS 6’s Brendan King asked Kaine if he has concerns about voters mailing in their ballots during election season.

“I do. The Richmond registrar has has warned the people that they really need to be careful about that,” Kaine responded.

He recommended Virginians vote early to determine if there are issues with your ballot ahead of Election Day. He urged voters to drop off ballots in person.

Kaine was also asked about the safety of mail carriers after reports of robberies. He suggested that mail carriers could start wearing body cameras to combat such crimes.

The Office of the Inspector General shared 10 different recommendations with the facility.

Management says it did respond to the findings, and pushed to close almost all of the recommendations. The OIG responded, saying only one recommendation would be closed.

“We're going to continue to do that to make sure that Virginians and Americans get the postal service that they are paying for and that they deserve,” Kaine said.

You can read the full audit as well as management's responses here.

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