Postal Service data shows workers “routinely” changed delivery information and concealed delays in order to falsely boost the agency’s performance statistics, according to a new report.
With more packages due to the coronavirus and cost-cutting moves implemented by the postmaster general, workers allegedly used false tracking scans to boost their performance metrics, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The report relied on interviews with anonymous USPS workers and internal agency data obtained by the Post. The workers said they were pressured by their superiors to scan items in a way that made it seem like they had gone out for delivery, when they hadn’t.
Other scans allegedly showed false delivery problems at the destination, like a blocked driveway or a customer not being home, that would result in delayed deliveries that were not, on paper, the Postal Service’s failure.
David Partenheimer, a Postal Service spokesman, said in a statement that the USPS monitors packages with “end-to-end visibility” from acceptance to delivery and is quick to act on inconsistencies.
“We take cases of improper package processing very seriously and immediately address it at the local level,” he said. “We are committed to making sure all packages are properly delivered for our customers.”
On Thursday, the Postal Service announced its most recent performance numbers during a surge in mail volume as shoppers increased their use of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the week of Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, 86.15% of First Class mail and 78.54% of periodicals were delivered on time – an increase of .18 and .24 percent, respectively, compared to the week of Sept. 26. Marketing mail, on the other hand, declined by .65 percent.
During the same timeframe, overall mail volume increased by 19 percent, according to the Postal Service. That represents about 480 million additional pieces of mail compared to last month and a 5 percent increase over the same period last year.
The allegations of false scans “in no way” affect that data, Partenheimer said.
But the Postal Service’s numbers do show a slowdown overall this year. From Jan. 1 until April 11, a month after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, First Class mail was delivered on time about 91 percent of the time or higher, according to court documents. That fell to a low of 81.47 percent on Aug. 8.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had implemented a set of controversial policy changes earlier in the summer that led to delayed deliveries around the country.
Bullock’s lawsuit alleged that changes implemented in June delayed delivery of items like prescription drugs, checks, job applications and could impact the ability of Montana residents to vote by mail amid the pandemic.
In addition to reversing the earlier changes, DeJoy also said the USPS would use additional resources to ensure that election-related mail gains priority and is “delivered securely and in a timely manner.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.