Two times a year, we publish a report of our work and activities for a just-ended 6-month period. This Semiannual Report to Congress (SARC) is required by law, but it’s also a chance for us to share our record of work with our many stakeholders. The work reflects our mission to help maintain confidence in the postal system and improve the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits, investigations, and research.
In this period, our audit report on compounding pharmacies illustrates how data tools and collaboration can result in major financial savings, improved efficiency, and risk mitigation. The report highlighted the huge increase in the Postal Service’s workers’ compensation costs for compound drugs, which are created when licensed physicians or pharmacists combine, mix, or alter ingredients of drugs to tailor them to individual patients.
Using a data analytics tool, we noticed a spike in drug costs for the Postal Service’s workers’ compensation program nationwide. After digging into the cost escalation, we found an issue with compounded pharmaceuticals. These personalized medications – typically topical creams and vitamins – cost more than other drugs because pharmacies are permitted to bill separately for each ingredient.
We opened an investigation, which then prompted a review by our Office of Audit on the current cost to the Postal Service and the potential long-term financial impact. We found the Postal Service’s compound drug costs have increased almost 2,000 percent, growing from about $5 million in 2010 to nearly $100 million in June 2015. We determined the long-term cost to be $1.2 billion.
Our compounding work is only an example of what we have done over the past 6 months. In this semiannual reporting period, we issued 83 audit reports, management advisories, and PARIS risk models, and the Postal Service accepted 93 percent of our recommendations. We completed 2,069 investigations that led to 391 arrests and $21.1 million in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, $5.28 million of which was turned over to the Postal Service.
Many of the audit reports and white papers we released were featured in this blog and our other social media outlets. Or, the audit projects started with input from you via our Audit Asks site. The reason for this outreach is simple: one of our goals is to engage stakeholders through as many channels as possible. Using social media allows us to have something of a two-way conversation. We can inform you of our work and solicit your input as well.
Please take a few minutes to read though the Semiannual Report to Congress and then let us know what you think. You can comment below, or visit our Facebook page or tweet us a message.