The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the U.S. Postal Service to report its annual review and mail volume to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Origin-Destination Information System-Revenue, Pieces, and Weight (ODIS-RPW) is a continuous, national probability statistical sampling system that provides statistical estimates of destinating mail revenue, volume, and weight. The Postal Service uses the data to develop new postage rates, conduct studies, prepare its budget, and support decisions on mail operations.

As part of this process, data collection technicians conduct statistical mail tests. The tests include sampling live mail and collecting data to estimate stamp use to calculate postage bought by the public but not used. The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors contracted with an independent public accounting firm to express opinions on financial statements and internal controls over financial reporting. The firm uses the ODIS-RPW data to support its opinions. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General coordinates audit work with the independent public accounting firm to ensure adequate coverage.

Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service conducted statistical mail tests in accordance with established policies and procedures.

What the OIG Found

Data collection technicians did not always follow policies and procedures when conducting system tests. We observed 47 tests in 16 districts and identified issues in three districts. Specifically, technicians did not always properly:

  • Identify and isolate test mail.
  • Apply correct sampling methodology.
  • Enter mailpiece data into the laptop computer.

These issues are similar to those previously reported. In response to our prior reports and discussions throughout the year on the issues, management updated several draft versions of statistical programs handbooks and provided individualized and quarterly group training.

When data collection technicians do not properly perform the tests, there is an increased risk management relies on incorrect data to support decisions concerning mail operations.

What the OIG Recommended

We believe corrective actions taken by management to update policy and provide training as the issues were identified have been effective. Therefore we are not making a recommendation.

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Comments (2)

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  • anon

    I was an employee of the USPS Statistical Programs Service Center (a HQ Field Unit) in Memphis, TN from 1984 until 2001until our unit was closed and all 4 employees were obliged to take an early retirement. (SUPPOSEDLY due to high travel costs from the Memphis area to field units.) I was an EAS-20 at that point. In reading your report, you saw only a small fraction of the problems with field data collectors. I made 200+ trips to field offices ranging from overnight trips to 2 month details and I saw a lot of problems. If someone would like to talk someday, send me an email. Thanks, Steve Billings Memphis, TN

    Mar 19, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Steve. I was actually looking into a detail assignment for Stats programs. Did you like doing it? Any pros and cons? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Sep 21, 2017