Investigation underway to figure out what's wrong with the postal service in Richmond

Posted at 4:01 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 17:31:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's the latest update in a months-long saga to find out why some mail that goes through Richmond doesn't make it to its final destination: the Richmond Regional Processing and Distribution Center is under investigation, and lawmakers expect the report to be released soon.

The Sandston-based facility was at the center of reform within the United States Postal Service (USPS) as one of the first implemented "consolidation" projects as part of the Delivering for America initiative. According to a logistics expert who spoke with CBS 6 in February, the plan would "make postal deliveries more efficient by cutting out the number of trips it takes to get packages and letters from the processing centers to mailboxes."

A letter sent to the Inspector General, signed by multiple Virginia representatives on both sides of the aisle, said: "While we are always open to changes to longstanding practices to improve efficiency, the ongoing stream of reports we get suggest that the opposite is happening."

The letter details multiple examples of people from Mechanicsville to the Northern Neck who've been personally impacted by postal issues.

One story highlighted a veteran who ordered medicine through the Department of Veterans Affairs and was told to expect a 7–10-day delivery time.

He didn't receive his medicine.

"It's just been a very discouraging situation," Senator Tim Kaine (D - Virginia) said in a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday morning.

"The fact that it has been so plagued with problems poses a lot of questions about the future of postal service, activities, and consumer service, for the people who rely on the postal service every day," Kaine said.

Though it's unclear when the Inspector General's report will be released, Kaine said he's watching for it "like a hawk."

After weeks of Kaine and other lawmakers pushing for a facility tour, Kaine said it would happen soon, though he couldn't share an exact date.

"I think it was delayed because they knew they need to clean up their act," Kaine said.

Staffing shortages play a role in the delays.

"The Postal Service is woefully understaffed. When it comes to Postal Investigators, the number of investigators within USPS to examine postal threats is shockingly small, when they have to cover an entire country," Kaine said.

Former staff stealing from the mail may have something to do with it, too.

So far, at least four former USPS employees have been charged with mail theft or obstruction of mail. 

Though Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin cannot comment on pending cases, she told CBS 6 in a phone interview:

"It certainly would not surprise me if there is institutional malfeasance at both the individual level or the executive level at the Postal Service," McEachin said.

McEachin also expressed concerns with mail-in ballots, encouraging people to try to deliver their ballots to a local post office in person, if possible, rather than send ballots through the mail.

According to the Office of the Inspector General for the USPS, the audit was projected to be released in February, but the website also said audit timelines could change.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

Virginia mail theft USPS

Local News

4 Richmond-area US Postal Service workers facing serious charges

Elizabeth Holmes
6:12 PM, Mar 03, 2024

Local News

Problems with the Postal Service: 'The Postal Service in Richmond is broken'

Cameron Thompson
10:19 AM, Feb 03, 2024

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.