Free Matter for the Blind or Other Physically Handicapped Persons (Free Matter) is a legally mandated program that allows eligible participants to receive and send mail for free. Mail that qualifies as Free Matter includes large-type (14-point or larger) documents, braille, audio recordings, and talking book players. When Free Matter is mailed domestically, it should be treated as First‑Class Mail for processing and service measurement. U.S. Postal Service regulations also require packaging to remain unsealed to facilitate inspection by Postal Service employees to ensure the mailpieces qualify for postage-free mailing. The Postal Service is reimbursed the cost of delivering Free Matter through congressional appropriations every year.
What We Did
The objective of the audit is to review Postal Service procedures for the acceptance, handling, and delivery of Free Matter. This report responds to a congressional request. For this audit, we interviewed stakeholders who rely on the Free Matter program, observed activity at the Baltimore Processing and Distribution Center and Linthicum Incoming Mail Facility, tracked shipping details for select Free Matter pieces, conducted a mail test to compare Free Matter and First‑Class Mail service, and reviewed the Postal Service’s and OIG’s customer complaint systems.