• on Oct 19th, 2009 in OIG | 10 comments
    Pushing the Envelope officially launched on October 14 last year. Since that time, the blog has posted more than 49 topics including this one and more than 1,700 comments. Some topics have been more popular than others, and those covering issues of interest to Postal Service employees have generally received the most attention. For example, the following topics were the top five in terms of page views.
    1. 1. The OIG Wants to Know How You Feel about Sick Leave
    2. 2. Silly Rules
    3. 3. Nationwide Wage Uniformity
    4. 4. Brainstorm Ideas to Help the Postal Service
    5. 5. Brainstorm Ideas Part 2

    But many of the less popular topics have also generated valuable debate about the Postal Service, its operations, and the postal industry in general. The OIG has even used reader comments and the results of blog polls in reports (for example, see Retail Technology Strategy — Automated Postal Centers and Financial Reporting Information Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

    As we start our second year, the contributors and editors to Pushing the Envelope would like to hear more from you on what you want from the OIG’s blog. What do you like about the blog? What can we improve? What topics would you like to see? Let us know what you think.

    This topic is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on Feb 23rd, 2009 in OIG | 27 comments

    The Postal Service funds workers’ compensation benefits for employees who sustain job-related injuries. In FY 2008, the Postal Service incurred over $1.2 billion in workers' compensation expenses. In addition, the Postal Service estimated its liability for future workers’ compensation costs at nearly $8 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 the Office of Inspector General (OIG) recognizes that fraudulent workers’ compensation claims make up a small percentage of the total claims, the OIG commits significant resources toward identifying claimants who defraud the system. In FY 2008, OIG investigations saved the Postal Service more than $197 million in future workers’ compensation costs, and the OIG arrested 51 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud. The following example highlights one of our recent successes.

    On October 2, 2008, a former Postal Service mail processing clerk from Montana was convicted in U.S. District Court on four counts of fraud following a 3-day trial in Billings, Montana. This former postal clerk had not worked since December 1986 and had received more than $650,000 in workers’ compensation payments since that time. She considered herself so disabled that she could not even “bend over to cut her toenails.” During a month-long surveillance in the fall of 2006, OIG agents saw a much more active woman as they videotaped her using a chain saw and wood splitter, unloading 10-foot logs from her pickup, and stacking large chunks of wood. (See above for some of the video footage.) On January 21, 2009, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Richard Cebull ruled that the former clerk is suffering from a mental disorder and committed her to a federal medical center for up to 20 years. This successful investigation saved the Postal Service approximately $781,000 in future workers’ compensation payments. Do you have any suggestions for preventing workers’ compensation fraud?

  • on Jan 12th, 2009 in OIG | 17 comments

    Keeping the Mail Safe

    Even though the holiday season is behind us, as the old saying goes, “crime takes no holiday.” In fact, as the economy dips, crime generally moves in the other direction. A recent crime data report by a retail trade group showed an 84 percent increase in shoplifting as the economy weakened, with retail security experts saying the problem grew worse over the holiday season. Shoplifters are taking everything from CDs to gift cards. The Postal Service is not immune from this trend. Many valuable items travel through the mail. People send their friends and family presents, gift cards, and checks. They order merchandise online. The vast majority of these items arrive safely at their destination, but some do not.

    Because mail can contain any number of valuables — not just jewelry or other expensive items, but personal and financial information — thieves will try to steal it. Postal Inspectors investigate mail theft committed by those outside the Postal Service; Special Agents from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) focus investigative attention on postal employees who steal the mail. Successes by both of these law enforcement entities contribute to maintaining public confidence in the Postal Service and the mail.

    How can you help?

    First, if you suspect your mail has been stolen or have any information about a mail theft, contact the OIG’s hotline at 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644).

    Second, if you have any suggestions about how the Postal Service, Postal Inspection Service, or the OIG can better ensure the security of the mail, please share them. We can all play a role in keeping the mail safe.

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