8NEWS: Report on Henrico Postal Service facility explains mail failures, according to Virginia lawmakers

8NEWS, WILL GONZALEZ

A recent audit report for a United States Postal Service (USPS) facility in Henrico County has been released and Virginia lawmakers who have been pressing the postal service for months about ongoing issues with mail across the Richmond region have released a statement in response.

The audit took place at the Richmond Regional Processing and Distribution Center (RPDC), which is located in the Sandston area of eastern Henrico.

The audit report

In January 2023, the Postal Service began to consolidate operations at several facilities across Virginia. The region was the first in the U.S. to undergo this consolidation process, which is part of the postal service’s 10-year plan.

The Richmond RPDC now receives and distributes mail and packages for the entire central Virginia region, as well as areas as far South as Emporia and Greensville County and areas as far west as Staunton and Highland County. The facility also handles some mail going in and out of the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore regions of Virginia, as well as some mail from northeastern North Carolina.

According to the report, the postal service faced “serious challenges” when consolidating operations in Henrico, which caused labor and service costs to rise. There was also a “significant decrease in service performance for the Richmond region that continued four months after [the] launch” of the Henrico facility.

The audit also found that the postal service did not take steps to address “known weaknesses” before consolidating operations and that existing issues of “high management turnover, inadequate management oversight, low employee availability and staffing and service performance” continued after the consolidation.

It was also found that, following consolidation, the facility and other RPDC facilities in the region were not following the new operating guidelines to ensure timely processing and transportation of mail.

Virginia lawmakers release statement in response

Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both U.S. Senators representing Virginia, as well as U.S. Representatives Jennifer McClellan (D-VA-04), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), Bob Good (R-VA-05) and Jen Kiggans (R-VA-02), released a joint statement in response to the audit report on the day of its release.

The statement described inadequate internal communications and an “egregious lack of attention to detail” including instances of mail being lost after falling off conveyor belts as well as “poor synchronizing between machines processing mail at the facility and the schedules of trucks transporting mail to and from the facility.”

The statement also calls into question the postal service’s promise of cost savings and improved efficiency resulting from the consolidation and changes in operation over the last year.

“It couldn’t be clearer that USPS has not been providing reliable service to Virginians, and we’ve been pressing for answers. This report pinpoints a number of issues, including a lack of coordination between USPS and staff at the [Richmond RPDC],” said the lawmakers in the joint statement. “Going forward, USPS must provide more resources and clearer guidance to management and staff at RPDC, among other steps. We look forward to working with USPS to ensure that happens, the recommendations in the IG report are implemented, and mail delivery is timely for Virginians.”

The full audit report can be found here, the full statement from lawmakers can be found here and 8News’ full reporting on the mail issues plaguing the central Virginia region can be found here.

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