Audit finds 78,948 pieces of delayed mail in the Bemidji, MN mail processing area

OIG Audit Report – Delivery in Northern Minnesota – 5/6/24


The Bemidji Post Office provides standard delivery and retail operations in a predominantly rural community in Northern Minnesota. The office also has some mail processing operations typically found inside a processing and distribution center. It processes, and subsequently, dispenses mail to 37 other delivery units in the region for delivery. In November 2023, community members and Postal Service employees in the Bemidji, MN, area contacted their congressional representatives and the media to express concerns about increased package volume disrupting mail service. Delivering and processing all mail timely is critical to the Postal Service meeting its service standards and providing the public with the service it deserves.

What We Did

Our objective was to evaluate mail delivery in Northern Minnesota. We interviewed management and observed delivery and mail processing operations at the Bemidji Post Office during the week of December 12, 2023. We also observed mail delivery operations at six surrounding post offices during the same week.

What We Found

On the morning of December 12, 2023, we visited the Bemidji Post Office and found delayed letters and flats, as well as insufficient staffing and resources in the office’s delivery operations. These issues occurred because headquarters management did not have a comprehensive plan to assess resources at the Bemidji Post Office before adding additional package volume to its delivery operations. In addition, there was a lack of timely notification from headquarters to district and Bemidji Post Office management regarding projected volume changes. District management also did not effectively work with area and headquarters human resources personnel to identify and implement strategies to fill vacant carrier positions. Further, management was not following procedures for mail processing in the Bemidji Post Office. We identified 78,948 pieces of delayed mail in the mail processing area. This occurred because headquarters management did not have a program in place to provide Bemidji Post Office management with training on mail processing operations.

Recommendations and Management’s Comments

We made five recommendations to address delayed mail, staffing, and training. Postal Service management agreed with three recommendations and disagreed with two. Management’s comments and our evaluation are at the end of each finding and recommendation. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General considers management’s comments responsive to recommendations 1, 4, and 5, and corrective actions should resolve the issues identified in the report.

Read Report Recommendations

Source: OIG

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