Butkovitz's investigation into mail sorting could save Philly $1.5M
City Controller Alan Butkovitz issued an investigative report, a follow-up to what was unearthed by his office back in February relating to mail mismanagement. The incorrect handling and sorting of Philadelphia’s mail was costing the city around $1.5 million annually.
Earlier this year, Butkovitz’s office found around 10,000 pieces of mail sitting in baskets and unprocessed, Philly.com reported. The investigation stretched several months and revealed the undelivered mailed contained hundreds of water bills, traffic court subpoenas, parking violation notices and more.
The latest report follows the initial investigation issued in February. Since that time, Butkovitz’s investigative unit has received a combined 168 phone calls and emails regarding late mail.
According to a statement released by Butkovitz’s office yesterday, on-site inspections found mail center employees wasting funds on postage costs by not correctly processing mail through the sorting machine. When mail is not pre-sorted by zip code, Philadelphia is charged 48.5 cents per piece of mail, instead of 39.1 cents.
“During our investigation we obtained a copy of this analysis which was provided to the Revenue Department a year ago,” Butkovitz said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the Department under the prior administration did not take action to realize the significant savings.”
According to the press release, when newly appointed Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin was notified of Butkovitz’s findings, he “indicated” that the department is working with an in-house technician to improve the use of the sorter.
The technician will also train staff to properly operate the sorter. An analysis carried out by the vendor who maintains the mail sorting machines showed that Philadelphia could save more than a million dollars annually if the mail was properly sorted.
“We will hold the Department accountable to saving tax dollars and getting mail processed and delivered on time all of the time,” Butkovitz said.
From 2013 to 2015, Butkovitz also found the amount of overtime being paid to employees in the mail center increased by 27 percent, from $131,235 to $171,427. During the same timeframe, the amount of mail pieces that were being processed decreased 10 percent, from 13.2 million pieces to 11.9 million.
“Management allowed virtually unlimited overtime for these employees without pre-approval or justification,” Butkovitz said. “It is encouraging that the new Commissioner has already taken steps to cut overtime by 23 percent and requiring all overtime to have the approval of senior-level management.”