The Office of Inspector General is tasked with ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the U.S. Postal Service. We also have the distinct mission of helping to maintain confidence in the mail and postal system, as well as to improve the Postal Service's bottom line. We use audits and investigations to help protect the integrity of the Postal Service. Our Semiannual Report to Congress presents a snapshot of the work we did to fulfill our mission for the six-month period ending September 30, 2019. Our dynamic report format provides readers with easy access to facts and information, as well as succinct summaries of the work by area. Links are provided to the full reports featured in this report, as well as to the appendices.
One impact of a greater maturity in data analytics is the ability to support the dedication of a segment of our resources towards quickly identifying and launching targeted local audit projects at post offices that are challenged in delivery service, retail, and financial operations. These projects have been very successful in increasing our presence in post offices across the country, and more importantly, have allowed us to better serve members of Congress when concerns come up in their communities. We look forward to expanding the scope of this work to look at post office facility conditions and plant efficiencies in fiscal year 2020.
Several of our projects in this report cover issues that the U.S. Postal Service has been facing for some years, including pressures to reduce costs, improve service, and better align its resources with a declining workload. For example, projects featured in this report look at the mail processing network from two perspectives – overtime and network optimization – to explore why planned cost reductions have not been realized. Other projects focused on the cost to the Postal Service of meeting its service performance goals, and the investment practices of foreign posts to see how the Postal Service compared. We also reviewed the Postal Service’s ability to help facilitate high-quality mail service for members of the military and diplomatic corps.
The use of the mail system to ship illicit narcotics continues to demand our attention both in our audit work and our investigations. While narcotics allegations are rapidly becoming our greatest investigative area of focus, our special agents cover a wide swath of areas: health care fraud (claimant and provider); mail theft; contract fraud; and financial fraud. In this report you will find highlights of the high-impact cases we investigated in all focus areas.
We submit this report pursuant to the Inspector General Act for the six-month period ending September 30, 2019. During this period, we issued 103 audit reports, management advisories, and white papers, and the Postal Service accepted almost 93 percent of our recommendations. We completed 1,362 investigations that led to 436 arrests and nearly $1.48 billion in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, more than $77 million of which was returned to the Postal Service.
It is also important to note that during this period, three more Governors were approved by the Senate and sworn in at the close of the fiscal year. The Board of Governors now has a quorum for the first time in five years.
I look forward to working with all stakeholders as we address the challenges ahead. With the support of the Board of Governors, postal management, and Congress, the OIG will continue to play a key role in maintaining the integrity and accountability of America’s Postal Service, its revenue and assets, and its employees.