News: MCB Hawaii modernizes postal operations
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - From October 2013 through mid-March 2014, the Marine Corps Base Hawaii military post office, the base Business Performance Office, United States Postal Service and additional subject matter experts worked to improve postal operations aboard the installation.
Recent changes include the very first two parcel drop boxes to be installed on a military installation, direct mail delivery to the base and the relocation of mail collection boxes on base. Other installations, including Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, are following suit.
The group utilized a method called Lean Six Sigma, or continuous process improvement. This series of assessment and improvement tools have been used by many organizations, including the Department of the Navy. Personnel are LSS certified using a belt-color system.
“(Lean Six Sigma is) a systematic way to look at a process and come up with ways to (improve on that process),” said Kevin Emery, the West Team lead for Enterprise Performance Support for Plans and Resources out of Headquarters Marine Corps. “It’s ‘Business 101.’”
The endeavor resumed direct mail delivery from local post offices to the base. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Banks, the MCB Hawaii installation postal officer and official mail manager, noticed the postal Marines were driving to Kailua Post Office and the Honolulu Processing and Distribution Center to pick up mail for Kaneohe Bay and Camp H.M. Smith. The local post office had not delivered mail directly to the base since 2010 for various reasons. Now that direct delivery has resumed, the base is annually saving approximately $7,000 annually in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs and about 1,500 labor hours.
“It gives our Marines (more time) to be Marines, and to focus on other important aspects of the post office and service both Camp Smith and Kaneohe Bay,” Banks said.
By November of last year, the postal Marines had received formal training, revised standard operating procedures and created step-by-step visual aids for mail scanning.
Since then, scanning performance scores, which reflect timeliness and accuracy of mail delivery, improved. The Camp Smith post office achieved a 100 percent score three times and Kaneohe Bay has scored as high as 98.62 percent, beyond USPS’s 96 percent standard.
“There are a lot of improvement opportunities if you just get the right people in the room together at least once or twice a week,” said Leo Green, a BPO management analyst and event team lead.
Green said he was impressed with the dedication of the team members, support from base leadership and the outstanding level of teamwork within the BPO.
“I think it’s good that they took the initiative to improve the mail collection process,” said Toni Hoy, a BPO management analyst. “It’s going to be a very successful project.”
Hoy, a green belt-level in LSS, mentored other LSS-certified hopefuls as they worked on CPI events. Banks said the postal Marines reported several of the base’s mailboxes were only collecting two to 10 mail pieces daily, largely due to their current locations, a far cry from the required USPS minimal average per collection box of 25 mail pieces per day.
The Wiki Wiki Market mailbox will be moved to the front of Mokapu Mall; the Anderson Hall Satellite Facility mailbox will be moved to the flightline Marine Mart; and the mailbox at the H-3 gate Marine Mart will move to the gas station side of the mart. The Anderson Hall Dining Facility and the base post office mailboxes will remain.
The USPS also gave MCB Hawaii two free parcel drop boxes, installed near the Camp Smith post office and on the Harris Avenue-side of Mokapu Mall. Banks said the boxes are beneficial because of their convenient location and 24-hour, seven-day a-week accessibility outside of normal USPS or military post office customer hours.
“The Marine Corps should focus more energy attention and money on CPI,” said Gunnery Sgt. Gilbert, instrument repair technician at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band, who worked toward becoming green belt-certified in LSS while assisting the base post office. “This is definitely getting outside of your comfort zone and doing something not the way we’ve always done it.”