Our objective was to assess whether the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has developed and implemented adequate controls to ensure proper oversight of area cases.

The mission of the Postal Inspection Service is to support and protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail. In fiscal years (FY) 2018 and 2019, the Postal Inspection Service had about 1,268 and 1,153 postal inspectors in 17 divisions across the nation, respectively. Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents responsible for investigating postal-related crimes.

Postal inspectors use the Case Management System to document and track investigative activities primarily using field notes or investigative summary logs (ISL). Area cases are typically established to conduct preliminary investigative activities, whereas a jacketed case is opened when there is indication or occurrence of criminal activity warranting further review. From October 2017 to December 2018, there were 1,373 closed area cases. Area cases should not be opened longer than three years and are managed at the division level. Inspectors should document case activities timely and accurately. Team leaders must review area case files, using the Closed Case Checklist, before case closure.

What the OIG Found

We found that the Postal Inspection Service does not have adequate controls and processes in place to oversee area cases. Postal inspectors did not adequately document field notes or ISLs and did not update investigative activities and close area cases timely.

Specifically, of the 90 sample area cases closed between October 2017 and December 2018, we identified:

  • 89 cases did not have sufficient field notes or ISLs to document daily activities. As a result, 216,749 of 336,238 (64 percent) workhours were charged to area cases without the required documentation.
  • 53 cases did not have investigative details updated every six months.
  • 29 cases were not closed within three years.
  • 10 of 21 cases that required special reports were not submitted within seven days of a major investigative event.

Overall, these issues occurred because of inattention to case management requirements by assistant inspectors-in-charge, team leaders, and inspectors. Specifically, assistant inspectors-in-charge and inspectors stated they are aware of the requirement to document daily activities, but they predominately documented only significant events. Also, the policies have conflicting information related to using field notes or ISLs to document significant events versus daily activities. In addition, team leaders did not conduct comprehensive reviews before approving case closures, although 96 percent of the sample cases we reviewed contained a completed Closed Case Checklist.

A lack of oversight and insufficient documentation could hinder management’s ability to achieve the Inspection Service’s mission or assess the productivity of individual inspectors. The Postal Inspection Service spent about $11,550,120 annually on unsupported workhours.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended the Postal Inspection Service update policies – to ensure investigative documentation requirements are consistent, and to include periodic reviews of investigative documentation; develop controls to ensure periodic reviews of investigative documentation are conducted; and provide refresher case management training to all team leaders and inspectors.

Read full report

Comments (7)

  • anon

    My package was ripped open, with a covering saying USPS WE CARE. I'm looking to open up a case, so I can tell my bank to refund my transaction as my items were missing with a case #. I've contacted my local post office and they have proof/pictures they received package like so. And recommended I open up a case. Thank you.

    Apr 10, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, Anjelica. Thank you for your comment. Regarding your concern, please file a complaint with the Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455 or https://www.uspis.gov/report/

    Apr 10, 2020
  • anon

    The last tracking showed, package in St. Louis 09/07/19. still no change in tracking Informationen. I believe a postal employee stole my package !!!! And i want it back !!!! I already filed a „theft report „. Next step is talking to the news channel s, that Postal Service is steeling customers goods. If you think , I let this go, you are wrong. Just search channel 5, about MSD sewer district harassing and steeling money from customers ( in my case , non customer). And using lawyers to do that. The picked the wrong people!!!

    Sep 12, 2019
  • anon

    Hello, Ralph. Thank you for your comment. If you filed a complaint with the USPS OIG Hotline and included your email address when you filed the complaint, you will receive a response via email from the OIG Hotline stating we received your complaint.

    Sep 13, 2019
  • anon

    After reading this I can why the Phx OIG does absolutely nothing about employee threats in the workplace. Zero tolerance clearly means zero action. 12 weeks and waiting, Pathetic.

    Sep 06, 2019
  • anon

    After reading this report I now understand why nothing is being done about the rampant mail theft in the raytown ,mo area . Mail is being stolen almost nightly from hundreds of customers. Same streets and same times night after night for 5 months now . Local inspectors have access to video,witnesses, descriptions and even names still NOTHING is being done . It truly is a shame that the caliber of employee in such an important position is so subpar

    Sep 04, 2019
  • anon

    Sean Brooks: Postal Inspectors don't care. If an incident doesn't involve them being able to mug for a television camera or be photographed for an online or print media article, they simply won't respond. Mail theft, mailbox fishing, and assaults and robberies of letter carriers are at epidemic levels. The resultant losses include washed checks, credit card fraud, and identity theft. Their response? Ending preventative patrols in hot spot theft areas by uniformed postal police officers in major metropolitan areas (these patrols had been increasing over the past decade only to be abolished last year and after resounding success). The Postal Inspectors would rather investigate a crime after it occurs (or not) than prevent said crime in the first place. Hopefully, the new Postmaster General will order a full audit of the Inspection Service once he gets established.

    Jun 11, 2020