There’s gold in them thar hills. Black gold that is. And gas and minerals. It’s not likely to spawn a TV show, like The Beverly Hillbillies, but the U.S. Postal Service has some experience with oil and gas leases, and earning royalties from them.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) controls mineral leases on federal lands and is entitled to the royalties, except on postal property. The Postal Service owns about 8,300 properties consisting of 20,805 acres of land; in fiscal year (FY) 2015, the Postal Service managed 32 properties with oil and gas leases and received $101,700 in royalty payments.

The royalties represent a tiny portion of the Postal Service’s roughly $69 billion in annual revenue. And some might argue that tending to oil, gas, and mineral rights is not part of the Postal Service’s mission. Still, there’s opportunity here and our audit report says the Postal Service isn’t making the most of it. Specifically, we found the Postal Service did not know which of its properties had oil and gas mineral rights and had no mechanism for tracking or maintaining properties with mineral rights. We also found USPS did not retain mineral rights ownership or consider the value of mineral rights when selling or acquiring properties.

We said the Postal Service needs to improve not only its management of oil and gas leases, but also its collection, tracking, and validation of royalty payments.

The solution could be as simple as developing a process to identify and track owned properties with mineral rights, and working with DOI to identify best practices for collecting, tracking, and validating royalty payments.

Did you realize the Postal Service managed properties with mineral rights? Are there other ways to improve the process of identifying and managing properties with oil, gas, and mineral rights?

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  • anon

    All sorting and redirecting of our mail in the very LARGE area around Rock Springs, WY. 82901 has been switched to Salt Lake City, Utah, about 175 miles away. The mail has gotten steadily slower until recently, when it became as though all (or almost all) mail gets lost for several days and is then found and delivered later. I am not kidding or exaggerating. Let me give you a couple of examples from this week. I received a statement from memorial hospital here in Rock Springs. It was dated October 3. It has a post mark from Salt lake City USPS of October 11. I received this statement on October 16. The bill was scheduled "past due for the18th. My bank sent me (from South Dakota) some money transfer checks to use with my credit line. There is no "date sent" nor a postmark, but these checks are only good for a short time. Usually when I receive them they are good for about 10 to 14 days. I received them yesterday, Oct. 20th. Problem: they expired on October 16th. What is going on here? If this continues I'll be charged late fees by all my creditors! The ones here in town will understand because they are experiencing the same problems. Those out of town creditors will not. If someone told you that payment was late due to the postal service taking 2 weeks to deliver mail, you would flat know they are liars, and so would I. This is not just inconvenient... It costs money! PLEASE someone look into this.

    Oct 21, 2016

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