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Audit: Postal Service contract truckers had their kids riding along

Watchdog finds safety and security breaches along highway routes

USPS pushed back on safety recommendations offered by the OIG. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

WASHINGTON — Carriers and owner-operators hired by the U.S. Postal Service to handle the agency’s highway freight have been red-flagged by auditors for safety and security violations, including having unauthorized family members riding along in their trucks.

The audit, conducted from February through September 2023 by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), was designed to assess the Postal Service’s transportation workplace safety and driver security by looking at eight Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DCs) nationwide.

The OIG focused on both highway contract routes (HCRs) and Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) drivers. HCRs are long-haul routes contracted to private trucking companies to carry mail between designated points.

PVS drivers, in contrast, are Postal Service employees who haul mail among processing facilities, inner-city delivery offices and local businesses within a 50-mile radius.

“We found the Postal Service did not obtain security clearances for contract drivers, contract drivers did not have valid and properly displayed identification badges, and proper forms were not always completed to document badge irregularities,” according to OIG’s audit.

“Additionally, the Postal Service did not comply with safety and security policies for securing transported mail or cargo, nor with motor vehicle accident observation guidelines. Also, safety and security maintenance items were not executed timely to make necessary repairs to facilities.

“When the Postal Service does not enforce proper safety and security measures, there is an increased risk of lost, damaged, or stolen mail and an increased risk of accidents and injuries to employees.”

In particular, OIG auditors were informed during interviews that HCR drivers brought unauthorized people without valid ID badges — including family members — into secured areas of Postal Service facilities.

“For example, at the Los Angeles P&DC, local management expressed concerns about HCR drivers carrying their children in their trucks. Also, at the Knoxville [Tennessee] P&DC, we found a driver with his child sitting inside the truck. Postal Service regulations allow only authorized employees with valid badges to enter Postal Service properties.”

Among five security-related recommendations, the OIG advised Robert Cintron, the Postal Service’s vice president of logistics, to develop and put in place an action plan with milestones and goals to address all HCR security clearance status issues identified during the OIG’s site observations.

The OIG also recommended that Cintron require periodic reviews by management “to confirm all drivers have current security clearance documents, and create a follow-up process to timely address any identified issues.”

Auditors also found that both HCR and PVS drivers did not consistently follow the safety and security policies and procedures for securing and transporting mail. For example, wheel chocks are required to prevent trailers from rolling away, straps are required to secure mail, locks are required on trailer doors, and seals are required for HCR long-haul trips.

Of the 276 drivers observed by auditors leaving P&DCs with trucks containing mail, 206 total deficiencies (about 75%) were identified regarding unsecured trailers (see table).

Deficiencies Identified with Unsecured Trailers

Source: OIG (observations from April 4 to May 17, 2023).

The OIG recommended that Cintron and Michael Barber, the Postal Service’s processing and maintenance operations vice president, issue supplemental guidance directing management to improve oversight by monitoring and enforcing compliance of safety and security deficiencies.

While Postal Service management generally agreed with the findings, they disagreed with a number of the OIG’s recommendations on resolving them, according to management comments included in the report. Management pointed out, for example, that it “already maintains a log for security clearance status.” 

Also, “Management issues supplemental guidance each year to administrative officials…regarding HCR screening and other official responsibilities of administrative officials,” management wrote in response to improving oversight of certain safety and security measures, noting that such guidance was last issued in April.

However, the OIG considered those comments “nonresponsive…and will pursue concurrence through the formal audit resolution process.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.


  1. Get right transportation

    That’s not the post office business who are contractor has in his truck. That’s his truck not post office property. They’re always trying to make problems where there are none. What business is it of anyone in the post office who’s in the truck with the driver? Mind your business and do your job that’s what the truck driver is doing.

  2. Pete

    I NEVER put a lock on a sealed trailer . It’s a simple security protocol, I’m a corporate trained loss prevention manager . Basically a seal or a lock will get a passing glance ( though a bolt seal will attract more attention than a plain seal ) , but a seal and a lock will attract the attention of unsavory types prowling around trucks . Because of the problems created by the ELDs and the lack of secured truck parking compounding that issue , you want your trailer as unattractive as possible , especially if stuck parking in an abandoned lot or on a pull off on a lone road . No seal or lock will deter all criminals but a lock and seal combined WILL PEAK THE INTEREST OF ANY CRIMINAL. It’s loss prevention 101 … attract as little attention as possible.

  3. Brian k

    My father was a air mail contractor in the 1970’s and 80’s. I helped him load and unload mail bags and baby chicken’s alot as a child.

  4. Stephen webster

    Children should be able to ride along often are a single parent household. Child care is a very big issue and it is important to spend time with a child. A much better idea than to bring in more foreign workers or migrant

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.