• on Jan 11th, 2010 in OIG | 7 comments
    Those of us helping on the Office of Inspector General blog had so much fun last year we thought we would make the top 10 stories an annual event. We’ve provided the top 10 postal stories for 2009. Tell us about any stories we missed and add whatever comments you think appropriate. In particular, we would like to get your input on the top story, so take a minute and vote in the poll below.

    And now in reverse order . . . our top 10:

     

     

    1. Electric vehicles spark interest — The Postal Service prequalified suppliers in case it requests proposals for the electric conversion of long-life vehicles (LLVs), and a House bill was introduced that would begin the process of testing and deploying 20,000 electric-drive delivery vehicles.
    2. Sales, Sales, Sales —The Postal Service used its pricing freedom to hold a sale during the traditionally low-volume summer months.
    3. Retirement incentives fail to motivate — The Postal Service offered financial incentives for early retirements, but fewer employees took up the offer than expected.
    4. Full-service Intelligent Mail launches — Full-Service Intelligent Mail prices became available in November.
    5. Communities take note as collection boxes disappear — The news was full of stories of the decline of the familiar blue box, a part of a national-cost-saving measure.
    6. Unprecedented cost reductions are not enough — The Postal Service squeezed 115 million workhours and $6.1 billion in costs from its operations, but it was not enough to offset the effect of volume losses.
    7. Mail goes paperless — A new way of “mailing” garnered attention as services emerged that allow mailers to send electronic “mail” using physical address information.
    8. Congress grants health care prefunding relief — Congress allowed the Postal Service to reduce its contribution to the Postal Service’s retiree health fund by $4 billion this year. Without this relief, the Postal Service would have come very close to running out of cash.
    9. The Postal Service requests 5-day delivery — Postmaster General Potter requested that the Postal Service be given the authority to cut a day of delivery if necessary.
    10. Perfect storm almost swamps the Postal Service — Large mail volume losses and the continuing heavy requirements to prefund retiree health benefits nearly tipped the Postal Service into insolvency.

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

  • 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?

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