In fiscal year 2013, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service processed about 49,000 mail covers. A mail cover is an investigative tool used to record data appearing on the outside of a mailpiece. Law enforcement agencies use this information to protect national security; locate fugitives; obtain evidence; or help identify property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable under criminal law.

A mail cover is justified when it will further an investigation or provide evidence of a crime. The U.S. Postal Service is responsible for recording and forwarding the data to the Postal Inspection Service for further processing. Postal Service and law enforcement officials must ensure compliance with privacy policies to protect the privacy of customers, employees, and other individuals’ information.

Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service are effectively and efficiently handling mail covers according to Postal Service and federal requirements.


We recommended management improve controls to ensure responsible personnel process mail covers in a timely manner and conduct periodic reviews of the mail covers program. Also, we recommended management implement system controls to ensure data integrity in the Postal Inspection Service mail cover application.