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 March 31, 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.
A MESSAGE FROM THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
Once again, this SARC period contained some significant opportunities and challenges. Of note, effective November 29, 2018, I was appointed the third Inspector General of the United States Postal Service. I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing to lead our office in ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity while advancing excellence for a thriving Postal Service.
During this period, we, along with various other parts of the federal government, experienced the longest shutdown in history. The impact on our office was significant and was most concentrated in the audit, research, and support areas, as our investigators continued to work in an excepted status. We are still recovering from the effects of the furlough and some work that we had hoped to talk about in the first half of the year will have to wait until the next SARC period.
Our audits focused on operational issues, of course, but they also covered a wide range of topics, including improvements to the Postal Service’s ethics program, effects from changes in the operational window, and new ways to invest postal retirement funds. Some of our work was especially topical, such as the audit in response to congressional requests to review Postal Service controls over the release of personnel information.
Our investigations continue to illustrate the growing challenge of illicit drugs in the mail and mail theft generally. We are seeing a steady increase in mail theft complaints and, in the case of illicit narcotics, we are finding more outsiders that deliberately enlist the aid of postal workers to divert drug packages sent through the mail. These outsiders can include sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, which can increase the danger substantially.
This report, submitted pursuant to the Inspector General Act, outlines our work and activities for the six-month period ending March 31, 2019. During this period, we issued 36 audit reports, management advisories, PARIS risk models and white papers, and the Postal Service accepted 87 percent of our recommendations. We completed 1,199 investigations that led to 396 arrests and nearly $67 million in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, more than $26.5 million of which was turned over to the Postal Service.
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.