Eva Knott 9:36 a.m., May 23
"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," Herodotus wrote back in 503 B.C., but then he never met the efficiency experts from the U.S. Postal Service's office of Inspector General.
In a June 5 report, the IG's office blasts San Diego's mail carriers for wasting time and money on the job, and suggests things they need to do to improve their delivery speed.
The auditors took out their apparently hidden cameras and stop watches and "determined the San Diego District could use at least 6 minutes less street time per day on each carrier route, or about 83,900 workhours annually.
"As a consequence, the Postal Service would save about $3.4 million annually."
"Street time," the audit explains, consists of "every duty a carrier performs from the time they load their vehicle, deliver, and collect mail along the route, to their return to the delivery unit to unload their vehicle."
The report then identifies what it says were a multitude of bad practices observed among San Diego postal workers.
"These included instances such as rehandling parcels by placing them on the ground before placing them in the vehicle, going to their personal vehicles, or engaging in unnecessary conversations or telephone use."
Added the auditors: "We observed multiple instances of carriers not using satchels to deliver mail, thereby making multiple trips to and from their vehicles for more mail, incurring additional street time."
"We also observed some carriers not 'fingering' mail between deliveries to place mailpieces in the delivery order to avoid backtracking.
"A foot carrier routinely performs this task en route between deliveries, while a motorized carrier performs this task as he walks from the vehicle to a house box."
The audit also faulted supervisors for not keeping sufficient track of their delivery minions.
"When asked, several carriers stated they occasionally observed supervisors while on the street, but not on a regular basis.
"Some supervisors said they would like to spend more time observing street operations and correcting inefficient carrier habits; however, their duties in the office often prohibit them from performing these observations."
Local postal officials responded to the findings by saying that "plans were already in place prior to the OIG review to reduce workhours and confirmed the district is moving in the right direction."
"In a subsequent discussion, management stated their plans are ongoing with an estimated completion date of October 1, 2014."