Controller: City mail center in 'disarray'
The city's mail center was in "complete disarray," Controller Alan Butkovitz said. Use of overtime had increased while the volume of mail had decreased within a two-year period, according to a report by his office released Wednesday. More than 50 percent of employees were found to have reported late to work during an unscheduled visit b
The city's mail center was in "complete disarray," Controller Alan Butkovitz said.
Use of overtime had increased while the volume of mail had decreased within a two-year period, according to a report by his office released Wednesday. More than 50 percent of employees were found to have reported late to work during an unscheduled visit by Controller's Office investigators. During that same visit, employees were found "sitting around a table" instead of working, according to Butkovitz.
The office also failed to presort outgoing mail by zip code, which meant spending 48.2 cents a piece to post as opposed to a discounted rate of 39.1 cents, costing the city as much as $1.5 million a year, according to the controller.
Those were some of the results of a follow-up investigation by the controller of the city's mail center operations, which previously had been found to have failed to process tens of thousands pieces of mail in a timely fashion.
During a news conference Wednesday announcing the findings of the latest investigation, Butkovitz said the mail center had "poor oversight and negligible management attention."
While Butkovitz said that some employees should lose their jobs based on his report, he stopped short of blaming former Revenue Commissioner Clarena Tolson, who oversaw mail center operations and now serves as deputy managing director for infrastructure and transportation.
"My general impression of Commissioner Tolson is that she vastly improved operations at the Revenue Department," Butkovitz said. "I don't think it's appropriate to look for sacrificial lambs. I think she should be judged by what she did in this department and what she is doing in her new role. And I think she's pretty competent."
New Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin was part of the controller's news conference Wednesday, citing improvements his department has made since the controller first flagged issues with the mail center in February.
When asked if it's possible that any employees would lose their jobs given what the controller's office found, Breslin said: "I don't know that."
Breslin said that the Inspector General's Office also had an ongoing investigation into the mail center and, therefore, he was limited to what he could say.
The commissioner vowed to improve the mail center by eliminating overtime, filling vacancies, and implementing a mail-tracking database. Four employees were hired recently.
For people who were affected by city mail that was late or never arrived, Butkovitz said his office would provide documentation about the investigation.
The controller also said he would continue to monitor the mail center. Anyone with city mail issues was encouraged to contact the Controller's Fraud Hotline at 215-686-3804 or FraudTips@philadelphiacontroller.org.