The Washington Post

Postal Service struggling to keep up on repairs with shrinking budget

(David Goldman/AP) (David Goldman/AP)

Many U.S. Postal Service facilities are facing safety and security issues as the cash-strapped agency struggles to keep up with maintenance with a shrinking budget, according to a recent federal audit.

The Postal Service inspector general found that the agency in 2011 and 2012 did not complete more than 19,000 needed repairs, 50 percent of which represent “safety, security and future major repairs.”

Another 16 percent of the repairs represented potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, according to the report, which was released in November. The inspector general’s office highlighted the findings on its blog Monday.

The USPS facilities department says employees and customers are not in danger and that the division prioritizes repairs based on safety and security, according to the audit.

The Postal Service spent $266 million on facility repairs in 2012, which is 29 percent below the industry average, the report said. Meanwhile, the agency’s capital budget decreased by $382 million between from 2009 through 2012.

The inspector general recommended that USPS develop a strategy for completing all necessary repairs, shift more funding toward such projects and update its priority list annually.

In its response to the audit, the Postal Service agreed with the recommendations but did not state whether it agreed with the findings. The agency also said all projects classified as safety- or security-related were either completed or active.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestion.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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