BACKGROUND:

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the U.S. Postal Service to report its annual revenue and mail volume to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Postal Service’s Origin-Destination Information System-Revenue, Pieces, and Weight system is the primary system for collecting revenue, volume, and weight data for most classes of mail and extra services.

The Postal Service uses system data to develop new postage rates, conduct management studies, assist in budget preparation, and support decisions concerning mail operations. In addition, the Postal Service’s independent public accounting firm uses this data and the underlying test results to support the financial statement audit.

This system’s data is the result of the work of Postal Service data collection technicians. They observe employee work activity, sample live mail, and collect data at randomly selected sites; record the information on laptop computers; and transmit it for review.

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 conduct system tests in accordance with established procedures. We identified 22 test errors in 13 of 45 tests observed. Specifically, data collection technicians did not always:  Correctly enter and verify all data entered into their laptop computer.  Follow and apply the appropriate test mail sampling methodology.

 Label test mail to ensure it was isolated from mail processing until the test was completed.

 Properly identify, isolate, and capture test mail.

 Protect their laptop computer. These issues contributed, in part, to the Postal Service's conclusion that a significant internal control deficiency related to data collection sampling procedures existed as of September 30, 2012.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:

We recommended management reinforce, through training, proper data collection methods to ensure test mail is identified, isolated, and captured during testing. We also recommended they reinforce the importance of protecting data collection laptop computers.