• on Aug 10th, 2015 in OIG | 5 comments

    Disability programs are vital for a nation that supports its citizens. In the United States, federal employees, including postal workers, who suffer employment-related injury or illness are entitled to workers’ compensation under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).

    The U.S. Postal Service funds workers’ compensation benefits for employees who sustain job-related injuries. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Postal Service incurred over $1.3 billion in workers' compensation expenses. In addition, the Postal Service estimated its liability for future workers’ compensation costs at nearly $17.1 billion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the workers’ compensation program and then bills the Postal Service for reimbursement.

    While most compensation claims are legitimate, fraud and abuse do occur. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) focuses resources on identifying claimants and providers who defraud the system. In FY 2014, OIG investigations saved the Postal Service more than $275 million in future workers’ compensation costs, and arrested 82 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud.

    One recent successful case highlights the type of cases our agents investigate:

    A postal letter carrier had been receiving workers’ comp benefits since 2001 after claiming total disability from a back injury at work. Investigators, however, discovered he had started a landscaping company shortly after his claimed injury and was routinely working at that company. Agents observed the individual driving a dump truck, operating a riding lawn mower and a tractor, and directing the activities of other individuals at customer properties. Undercover investigators also hired the former carrier to perform landscaping work for them, which they video recorded and presented as evidence to prosecutors and the Department of Labor (DOL). These activities exceeded the former employee’s stated limitations and he failed to inform the DOL of his involvement in this business, both of which resulted in his conviction and the termination of his benefits.

    This successful investigation alone saved the Postal Service approximately $664,000 in future workers’ compensation payments. What suggestions do you have for preventing workers’ compensation fraud? And if you suspect fraud by either a Postal Service employee or provider, please contact our office at 888-877-7644.

  • on Jun 8th, 2015 in OIG | 1 comment

    Sometimes it can be confusing to keep track of who does what in this postal world. The U.S. Postal Service has a wide range of stakeholders, including a few entities with oversight responsibilities. We, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), are one of those entities.

    The OIG, an independent agency within the Postal Service, maintains the integrity and accountability of America’s postal service, its revenue and assets, and its employees. Our mission is to help maintain confidence in the postal system and improve the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits, investigations, and research. Audits of postal programs and operations help to determine whether they are efficient and cost effective. Investigations help prevent and detect fraud, theft, and misconduct, and deter postal crimes. The OIG also conducts research to keep Postal Service Governors, Congress, Postal Service management, and other stakeholders informed of challenges and opportunities.

    Every 6 months, as required by Congress, we publish a report of our work and activities for that period. We recently published our spring Semiannual Report to Congress, or the SARC as we affectionately call it. Our efforts focused on identifying ways to make the Postal Service more efficient, reduce its strategic and financial risk, and lower its cost of doing business. Among the reports featured in this semiannual report are audits on revenue protection and Sunday delivery of parcels; a management advisory on city carrier compensation costs; and white papers on a wide range of topics, including the Postal Service’s universal service obligation.

    During this period, we issued 74 audit reports, management advisories, and white papers. We completed 1,955 investigations that led to 370 arrests and nearly $1.4 billion in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, $10.7 million of which was turned over to the Postal Service.

    The report also carries extensive appendices chronicling our work in detail. We encourage you to review the report and get to know us better. We welcome your input as well.

  • on Apr 13th, 2015 in OIG | 5 comments

    If you’ve rummaged around our website lately, you may have noticed a new tab on our home page entitled Audit Asks. “What is Audit Asks?” you might ask. It’s where you can read about some of our upcoming audits in their early stages and respond to questions that can help us develop more complete and useful audit reports.

    Audit Asks is actually an update of our audit project pages, initially launched about 6 years ago to get feedback from our readers. With the new Audit Asks format, we have added some eye-catching graphics and changed our writing style to prompt more feedback.

    Engaging stakeholders is important to us, as this blog attests. Your comments provide valuable insights and can help guide the direction of our audits, as well as our findings. This is also your opportunity to send links to documents you think will be useful during the audit planning phase. During this phase the audit team learns about the subject, collects a broad range of data, contacts key experts and stakeholders, and develops the specific objectives of the audit. This is when we decide on the breadth and depth of the topic of the report.

    Right now, for example, you can let us know about your experience with reduced window hours at select post offices and whether you think this will generate the intended savings. Or you can tell us what you think about voting by mail or your views on the new mobile delivery devices used to track packages and communicate with local post offices.

    Are you following us on Twitter and Facebook? It’s a great way to be informed when the audit announcements are posted in Audit Asks.

    And while we’re asking, are there specific issues you believe merit a U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General audit? We conduct objective, independent audits of Postal Service programs and operations to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and misconduct, and to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. If you have an idea for an audit along any of these lines, we would love to hear from you. 

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