The primary objective of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Revenue Investigations Program is investigating revenue loss due to postage shortfalls, improper or fraudulent mailings, and related issues. Customer complaints, anonymous tips, and U.S. Postal Service employees or other investigative agencies provide revenue investigation leads. Postal inspectors determine whether insufficient postage was willful or unintentional; and provide investigative findings of noncriminal cases to the Postal Service for appropriate action.
Prior to the beginning of fiscal year (FY) 2015, revenue investigation cases could be initiated at the Postal Inspection Service division level. The majority of the investigations (76 percent) ended up in administrative versus criminal or civil outcomes. Additionally, mailers sometimes felt inappropriately targeted by these investigations. In FY 2015, the Inspection Service changed its processes for initiating revenue investigations.
This is the second of two reports related to the Postal Service’s Undeliverable as Addressed mail strategies. The first report, Strategies for Reducing Undeliverable as Addressed Mail (MS-MA-15-006) was issued on May 1, 2015. The objective of this second review was to evaluate Postal Inspection Service enforcement efforts over revenue investigations, specifically how revenue investigations are initiated, conducted, closed, and appealed.
What The OIG Found
The Postal Inspection Service conducted and closed revenue investigations in accordance with applicable policies and procedures and was not involved in the Postal Service appeals process for revenue deficiencies.
To enhance the quality of revenue investigations, in FY 2015, the Postal Inspection Service implemented a centralized headquarters-coordinated committee comprised of nine contracted revenue fraud analysts with prior Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service experience to pre-screen all revenue investigative leads. They evaluate the leads for validity, potential revenue loss and to ensure the appropriate use of postal inspectors for potential fraudulent cases and postal service personnel for non-investigative matters. The Postal Inspection Service makes the final decision to conduct an investigation.
The creation of the committee should improve the quality of revenue investigations and appropriately assign referrals. Thereby, reducing the number of Postal Inspection Service investigations.
However, the Postal Inspection Service has an opportunity to further enhance the evaluation of its program by documenting the Postal Service resolution for its revenue investigative cases. We reviewed a statistical sample of 147 closed revenue investigation case files and 62 files (42 percent) did not document the resolution reached by the Postal Service. This occurred because the Postal Service did not always provide the Postal Inspection Service with the final deficiency collected. This pertinent information could assist the Postal Inspection Service with its continuous evaluation of the Revenue Investigations Program.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended management establish procedures to document the Postal Service’s resolution for its investigative cases for continuous evaluation of the Revenue Investigations Program.