If you look at the OIG Office of Audit page, you’ll read our audits are “designed to protect assets and revenue, ensure efficient and economical mail delivery, and safeguard the integrity of the postal system.”
In doing so, our auditors examine every aspect of Postal Service operations, including areas that utilize third-party contractors. Take, for example, transportation. In a recent audit, we looked at the Transportation Contract Support System (TCSS), an automated contracting system for administering over 17,500 Postal Service highway contract routes, also known as HCRs. Our objective was to check the accuracy of the scheduled hours of and payments for HCRs for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.
To get our answers, we didn’t try to examine all 82,578 scheduled trips during this period. Instead, we performed a risk assessment that focused on the difference between calculated trip hours and reported trip hours. The greater the discrepancy, the higher the risk of the contracted schedules being overstated. We found 271 of the trips could be considered having high or medium risk levels.
While the scheduled hours recorded for these HCRs were generally accurate, we identified 84 instances where inaccurate schedule entries led to overpayments. While almost all of these errors were corrected in the entry system, the Postal Service had only recovered overpayments from five of the trips. We estimated there were about $4.1 million in overpayments the Postal Service should have recovered over the past five years.
Although the Postal Service informed us that it is switching to a new HCR management system, our recommendations provide potential guidelines to consider for the future system. For example, we found the Postal Service did not provide adequate oversight nor did it conduct periodic monitoring to detect and correct errors in a timely manner.