October 3, 2023

Audit: Postal Service contract truckers had their kids riding along


WASHINGTON — Carriers and owner-operators hired by the U.S. Postal Service to handle the agency’s highway freight have been red-flagged by auditors for safety and security violations, including having unauthorized family members riding along in their trucks.

The audit, conducted from February through September 2023 by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), was designed to assess the Postal Service’s transportation workplace safety and driver security by looking at eight Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DCs) nationwide.

The OIG focused on both highway contract routes (HCRs) and Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) drivers. HCRs are long-haul routes contracted to private trucking companies to carry mail between designated points.

PVS drivers, in contrast, are Postal Service employees who haul mail among processing facilities, inner-city delivery offices and local businesses within a 50-mile radius.

“We found the Postal Service did not obtain security clearances for contract drivers, contract drivers did not have valid and properly displayed identification badges, and proper forms were not always completed to document badge irregularities,” according to OIG’s audit.

“Additionally, the Postal Service did not comply with safety and security policies for securing transported mail or cargo, nor with motor vehicle accident observation guidelines. Also, safety and security maintenance items were not executed timely to make necessary repairs to facilities.

“When the Postal Service does not enforce proper safety and security measures, there is an increased risk of lost, damaged, or stolen mail and an increased risk of accidents and injuries to employees.”

In particular, OIG auditors were informed during interviews that HCR drivers brought unauthorized people without valid ID badges — including family members — into secured areas of Postal Service facilities.

“For example, at the Los Angeles P&DC, local management expressed concerns about HCR drivers carrying their children in their trucks. Also, at the Knoxville [Tennessee] P&DC, we found a driver with his child sitting inside the truck. Postal Service regulations allow only authorized employees with valid badges to enter Postal Service properties.”

Among five security-related recommendations, the OIG advised Robert Cintron, the Postal Service’s vice president of logistics, to develop and put in place an action plan with milestones and goals to address all HCR security clearance status issues identified during the OIG’s site observations.

The OIG also recommended that Cintron require periodic reviews by management “to confirm all drivers have current security clearance documents, and create a follow-up process to timely address any identified issues.”

Auditors also found that both HCR and PVS drivers did not consistently follow the safety and security policies and procedures for securing and transporting mail. For example, wheel chocks are required to prevent trailers from rolling away, straps are required to secure mail, locks are required on trailer doors, and seals are required for HCR long-haul trips.

Of the 276 drivers observed by auditors leaving P&DCs with trucks containing mail, 206 total deficiencies (about 75%) were identified regarding unsecured trailers (see table).

Deficiencies Identified with Unsecured Trailers

Source: OIG (observations from April 4 to May 17, 2023).

The OIG recommended that Cintron and Michael Barber, the Postal Service’s processing and maintenance operations vice president, issue supplemental guidance directing management to improve oversight by monitoring and enforcing compliance of safety and security deficiencies.

While Postal Service management generally agreed with the findings, they disagreed with a number of the OIG’s recommendations on resolving them, according to management comments included in the report. Management pointed out, for example, that it “already maintains a log for security clearance status.” 

Also, “Management issues supplemental guidance each year to administrative officials…regarding HCR screening and other official responsibilities of administrative officials,” management wrote in response to improving oversight of certain safety and security measures, noting that such guidance was last issued in April.

However, the OIG considered those comments “nonresponsive…and will pursue concurrence through the formal audit resolution process.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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