Changes announced to address city mail mismanagement

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City officials say the problems were worse than they thought. (WPVI)

Almost three months after uncovering major mismanagement at Philadelphia's mail distribution center, city officials say the problems were worse than they thought.

But they've also made changes to fix the issues.

Officials say the improvements they've made could save the city $1.5 million a year. They also say no one was fired as a result of this investigation, but this investigation is not over yet.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz says he knew that Philadelphia's mail distribution center was poorly managed, he just didn't realize how bad it was.

"The mail centers operations were in complete disarray," he said.

Butkovitz says that the investigation led by his office found a department hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of dollars through improper mail sorting, unnecessary overtime expenditures, and gross mismanagement.

The city controller says much of that revenue was lost simply because mailroom workers were not using the mail sorting machine properly.

He explains, "When mail is not presorted by zip code, the city is charged 48.5 cents per piece of mail instead of 39.1 cents."

On Wednesday it was announced that not only have mailroom employees since been provided proper and ongoing training on the use of the mail sorter, the city is also implemented a mail tracking database to keep tabs on incoming and outgoing mail.

City officials say those and other measures have combined to reduce overtime by 23 percent over the past year, and Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin says they're not done yet.

Breslin says, "Our goal is also when fully staffed to virtually eliminate overtime in the mailroom - only use it in extraordinary circumstances, when a large unscheduled mailing is coming into the mailroom."

And Butkovitz says, "We will continue to monitor the department's actions and hold them accountable for insuring the mail center is operating in a professional, efficient environment."

The initial investigation that got this started uncovered thousands of pieces of mail - including court notices, fines and tax bills - that were not processed in a timely fashion.

Butkovitz says he is confident that will not happen anymore.
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