Frequently Asked Questions about the USPS OIG

In constructing our Audit Plan, we focused on the projects that provide Postal Service management with valuable information they need to address the emerging strategic issues and management challenges they are facing. We look at the major risks facing the Postal Service and propose audits based on these perceived risks and stakeholder concerns, as well as follow up reviews of previously audited areas with significant control weaknesses.

Generally, an audit goes through three phases: survey, fieldwork, and reporting.

Performance audits are announced. However, selected Field Financial audits, due to their nature, are unannounced.

Hotline, audit project pages, blogs, contact with applicable director or audit operations.

The Office of Audit is authorized for a staff of approximately 368.

Our audit teams are located across the country.

You would have pride fighting waste, fraud, and misconduct for the second largest government organization that virtually serves every American every day with effective mail service. Conducting investigations and audits will be varied, fulfilling, and exciting. We offer federal locality pay, flexible work schedules, telework, state of the art technology, ongoing professional development, a government-backed pension plan, and numerous other unique benefits.

  • Alternative work schedules with flexible hours. The USPS OIG has several alternate work schedules (AWS) that allow employees to work their 80-hour work schedule with greater flexibility.
  • 560 hours of accumulated annual leave carry over for non executives. Employees are allowed to accumulate and carry over 560 hours of annual leave each year vs. 240 hours of accumulated annual leave for the federal government.
  • Annual Leave Exchange Program - The annual leave exchange program allows eligible employees with an opportunity to receive cash in exchange for earned leave.

There are many ways to contact us. Please refer to our contact page to view the specific methods.

Yes, the Student Cooperative Program. This program is designed to build relationships between the USPS OIG and academic institutions and provide students with possible job opportunities for future USPS OIG employment. For more information, visit our employment page.

In accordance to section 1006 of title 39, United States Code, Postal Service employees serve under excepted appointments. They do not acquire competitive status or reinstatement eligibility for competitive service jobs. However, by law, they have special noncompetitive appointment eligibility for competitive service jobs. For further information, go to www.usajobs.gov or www.opm.gov.

Yes. The minimum age of entry is 21 years old and the maximum age is 37 years old.

FOIA FAQs (4)

Appeals aren’t required to reference statutory, regulatory or case law, but it helps. The Department of Justice publishes a FOIA Guide that you can access online. Lookup the exceptions our FOIA analyst used and see if any appear to be misapplied to your request. Find cases with facts similar to your request where courts ordered the release of records.

If you believe records should be released (or unredacted) because there’s a public interest in exposing alleged wrongdoing, produce credible evidence of that misconduct to help us determine that the public interest outweighs the privacy interests. Bare suspicion of misconduct is inadequate.

Many requestors simply reiterate that they want the records (or redactions lifted). We know you want the records or you wouldn’t have requested them in the first place. It helps if you can articulate why you believe the FOIA exceptions we cite don’t apply or why the public interest outweighs those exceptions.

The bottom line is that FOIA appeals are not the venue to request that we reconsider investigating your allegations. We won’t be able to consider those requests.

The FOIA is designed to grant public access to records. However, neither the FOIA nor the Inspector General Act provides FOIA requesters the right to appeal an OIG’s decision to open, not open, close, or not close any audit, investigation, or other inquiry. We know this is frustrating, but the OIG has finite resources. We log every single allegation we receive and even though your allegation may not be immediately investigated, it may signal a larger scheme that we will investigate. Your allegation is critical in helping us spot criminal patterns, so we may come back to your allegation someday.

The FOIA process allows the public access to records, not specific answers or information synthesized from those records. The USPSOIG cannot answer follow-up questions or offer explanations for why records do or do not exist. All we can do under FOIA is release responsive records. Though we often offer some context in our responses, we can’t explain or summarize the records.

The USPS OIG is an independent oversight entity that is wholly separate from the Postal Service. We monitor them for waste, fraud and abuse, but we don’t have control over their records and can’t release them under FOIA. In situations where the OIG does not own or control the records requested, our FOIA analysts will explain where you can properly request the records. An appeal of that response is unlikely to be successful because we simply don’t have the records sought. The best solution is to make a separate request to the entity that controls the records you seek.

He or she reports to the nine Governors and Congress, not Postal Service management.

The USPS OIG is one of the largest civilian IG offices. With a FY 2012 budget of more than $224 million, the USPS OIG employs more than 1,100 auditors, investigators, and professional support personnel. In addition to authorities of all other IG offices, USPS OIG authorities include internal mail theft.

The USPS OIG is a statutorily mandated independent oversight entity with a multi-faceted mission that includes an investigative and audit function. OIG investigative efforts detect fraud, waste and misconduct by postal personnel and those who contract with the U.S. Postal Service. OIG investigative efforts also serve as deterrence and assist in protecting the integrity of America’s mailing system. OIG audits evaluate and analyze the Postal Service programs, and operations for moving the mail, marketing, retailing postal products, investing in infrastructure, reporting financial data, and maximizing information technology. Our audits keep Congress, the Governors and Postal Management informed of problems, deficiencies and corresponding corrective actions.

Fraud is any knowing deception designed to unlawfully deprive the United States of something of value or to secure from the United States for a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which an individual(s) is not entitled.

Waste is the extravagant, careless, or needless expenditure of Government funds, or the consumption of Government property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls, or decisions.

Misconduct is intentional or improper use of Government resources. Examples include misuse of position, authority, or the misuse of resources such as tools, vehicles, or office equipment.

The Inspector General is appointed by the nine presidentially-appointed Governors of the Postal Service. The Inspector General serves a term of 7 years - the only statutory Inspector General office with a set term.

The USPS OIG's mission is to help maintain confidence in the postal system and improve the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits and investigations. The USPS OIG prevents and detects fraud, waste, and misconduct; promotes economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; promotes program integrity; and keep the Postal Service Governors, Congress, and Postal Service management informed of problems, deficiencies, and corresponding corrective actions.

Intentional or improper use of Postal Service resources. Examples include misuse of position or authority; or the misuse of resources such as tools, vehicles, or office equipment.

Individuals who contact the Hotline may request confidentiality and ask that their identities not be revealed. However, a complainant's identity may be revealed if it is unavoidable to effectively investigate the alleged matter or as otherwise required by law. The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides that, after receipt of a complaint or information from an employee, the Inspector General shall not disclose that employee's identity without the employee's consent, unless the Inspector General determines such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of the investigation. Please note that individuals who contact the Hotline via electronic mail cannot be assured of confidentiality due to the non-secure nature of electronic mail systems. Callers can also request to remain anonymous and not give their name at all.

Any knowing deception designed to unlawfully deprive the Postal Service of something of value or to secure from the Postal Service for a benefit, privilege, allowance, or consideration to which an individual(s) is not entitled. Such practices include, but are not limited to, the offer, payment, or acceptance of bribes or gratuities; making false statements; submitting false claims; using false weights or measures; falsifying records and books of accounts; arranging for secret profits, kickbacks, or commissions; and conspiring to use any of these devices. The term also includes conflict of interest cases, criminal activity, and the unauthorized disclosure of official information relating to procurement and disposal matters.

The extravagant, careless, or needless expenditure of Postal Service funds, or the consumption of Postal Service property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls, or decisions.

Complaints include alleged violations of laws, rules, or regulations; misconduct; waste of funds; abuse of authority; theft of mail by employee or contractor; or danger to public health and safety. Complaints and allegations received by the Hotline are analyzed to identify systemic issues affecting the Postal Service. The OIG considers all Hotline contacts when planning OIG audits and projects. If the complaint or allegation does not fall under the scope of the OIG's jurisdiction, the information may be forwarded to the appropriate authority for their review.

The Hotline receives complaints from employees, contractors, customers, and the general public.

The USPS OIG relies on concerned employees and citizens to provide us with information regarding alleged waste, fraud, and misconduct in the USPS. We realize that you may wish to remain anonymous in submitting an allegation to us. However, your information is most useful to us if we can contact you by telephone or mail for additional information or, in some cases, if we can interview you personally. Therefore, we encourage you to identify yourself when you contact us.

You can expect to hear a number of options that will assist you in determining where your concerns would be addressed. After listening to all options, if you find you need to speak with an analyst, your call will be routed to a Hotline Program Analyst who will obtain information regarding your concern. In many cases the analyst will be able to determine the appropriate office that can address your concerns and will be able to direct you to that office. However, if the analyst determines that the issue warrants further review by the OIG, you will be interviewed to obtain information to properly evaluate your complaint.

The preferred method of communicating a complaint is via the Internet. Complaints can also be received at any time via e-mail and voicemail. The OIG's toll-free Hotline number, 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644), is live from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays). To increase efficiency and postal customer service satisfaction, the OIG uses a caller-directed menu that allows callers to route inquiries to the appropriate office for response.

Please make sure that you provide your name, address and telephone number if you are not going to remain anonymous. If you wish to remain anonymous, please do not give any information that could identify you as the complainant.

If the subject is a postal employee, please provide the employee's name, title, tour of duty, and the name and address of the postal facility where the employee works.

  • Who was involved?
  • Where did the incident occur?
  • When did it happen?
  • Is it still ongoing?
  • How or how much?
  • How did you become aware of the problem/ Do you have first hand knowledge of the event?
  • Have efforts been made to correct the problem? (Has anyone else been contacted about this problem; was anything done about your concern)?

The information we receive is reviewed to identify systemic or criminal issues and potential areas for postal-wide reviews. In addition, information that is received is reviewed and evaluated to determine if investigation is warranted. If the OIG determines that no follow-up will be done regarding a Hotline complaint, the OIG generally does not inform the Hotline complainant of that, due to a lack of resources.

Through trend and data analysis, the OIG's annual audit plan provides guidelines on when and what programs and operations should be audited. The information we collect will be reviewed on a quarterly basis to determine if there are systemic problems that impact the efficiency and operations of the Postal Service. Information received will also be used to identify ways to reduce costs and streamline operations in the Postal Service.

The OIG generally does not handle individual issues, except for whistleblower reprisal complaints and related executive investigations. Other individual issues should be pursued through administrative processes available within the Postal Service, such as the EEO process, grievance procedures, etc.

It is difficult to determine a completion date or time. Each case is different; some may take longer than others.

Immediately! Disclosure should be made as soon as information is available. Please take a minute and review "How do I file a complaint?"

The Special Agent is responsible for conducting investigations regarding mail theft by employees, injury compensation and contract frauds, embezzlements and financial crimes, bribery and kickbacks, computer crimes, internal affairs, narcotics, and whistleblower reprisal. The Special Agent is also responsible for investigating conflicts of interest and allegations against postal executives.

USPS OIG investigators review relevant documents and interview complainants, witnesses, experts, and subjects. They may take sworn statements and use administrative subpoenas to obtain documentary evidence. The USPS OIG, in cooperation with the United States Attorney, may also use federal grand jury subpoenas to obtain information, reports, answers, accounts, papers, and other data and documentary evidence. During the course of an investigation, the USPS OIG may request assistance from other state, federal, and local government agencies, including law enforcement agencies such as the FBI. At the end of an investigation, the USPS OIG reports its findings to USPS management and, as appropriate, to prosecuting officials. The decision of what action to take rests with management and the prosecutor.

As sworn federal law enforcement agents, Special Agents have the power to serve warrants and subpoenas issued under the authority of the United States; make arrests without warrant for postal-related offences committed in their presence; make arrests without warrants for postal-related felonies cognizable under the laws of the United States, if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person arrested has committed or is committing such a felony; carry firearms, and make seizures of property as provided by law.

  • Applicants must maintain eligibility to operate motor vehicles.
  • Applicants must have successfully completed the Basic Criminal Investigator Training Course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center or equivalent Federal/Postal Service law enforcement academy.
  • Applicants must qualify and maintain authorization to carry firearms including no current or previous domestic violence convictions.
  • Applicants must maintain physical, mental, and emotional standards, and requirements necessary to perform law enforcement assignments.
  • Applicants must be able to work unscheduled, irregular hours with the possibility of personal risk.
  • Applicants must be willing to relocate at the direction of management.

Congress established the USPS OIG as an independent and objective unit within the Postal Service to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and misconduct. The role of investigations is to receive and investigate complaints or information concerning the possible existence of any activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations. Under the Inspector General Act, the USPS OIG can assess all USPS records and conduct any investigation which in the Inspector General's judgment is necessary or desirable. Our investigations include alleged contract fraud, financial fraud, healthcare fraud, workers' compensation fraud, and any other matter which could potentially affect the Postal Service. USPS OIG investigators - Special Agents - generally have law enforcement backgrounds and have worked in federal and state investigative units.

Yes. The minimum age of entry is 21 years old and the maximum age is 37 years old.

Technically, no, but the Postal Service has implemented policies designed to protect employees from retaliation related to their whistleblowing activity.  Section 666.18 of the Employee & Labor Relations Manual states:

No one may take or fail to take a personnel action, or threaten to do so, with respect to any employee or applicant for employment because the employee or applicant discloses information that he or she believes evidences:

  1. A violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
  2. A gross waste of funds, gross mismanagement, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

The whistleblower policy, found in Sections 666.18 and 666.3, generally tracks the tenants and court interpretations of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Accordingly, when the Whistleblower Laws change, the Postal Service voluntarily follows the updated statute.  

It’s a broad term that includes, appointments, promotions, demotions, changes to salary, denial of training opportunities (especially if the training would qualify you for a higher salary), revocation of access to buildings or computer databases, or any significant change to your duties, responsibilities or working conditions. 

Maybe! A whistleblower is someone who has evidence one of the following:

  1. Violation of a law, rule, or regulation;
  2. Gross mismanagement;
  3. A gross waste of funds;
  4. An abuse of authority; and/or,
  5. A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

The whistleblower must then disclose that information to someone else. If you are disciplined or received a negative personnel action in direct retaliation for disclosing this evidence, you may have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation. 

A whistleblower doesn’t have to be involved in or a witness to the misconduct they’re disclosing. However, you should have concrete and specific evidence of the violation of law, gross mismanagement, health and safety violation, etc. Mere suspicion or belief is not enough. We can’t investigate someone just because you’re sure we’ll find something.

Documents and knowledge of the who, what, where, when, why and how of the alleged misconduct are important. Whistleblowers must have an objectively reasonable belief that they are genuinely reporting misconduct. 

Yes! Recent changes to whistleblower laws now allow the disclosure to be made to the wrongdoer. This makes sense, as it’s usually the fastest way to stop the misconduct, which is what everyone wants.

Maybe! The OIG would need to find that:

  1. You made a protected disclosure regarding misconduct, waste, fraud or abuse;
  2. The people who took action against you knew about that disclosure;
  3. The Postal Service would have taken the same action against you regardless of the disclosure.

The knowledge mentioned in the second prong can be inferred by the timing of the personnel action taken against you. If the action was taken a week after your disclosure, it can be inferred that the disclosure was the catalyst.

The third prong is often difficult for alleged whistleblowers to overcome. If you are disciplined for misconduct, the OIG would have to find that the discipline taken had at least a partially retaliatory motive. This can sometimes be shown by whether the personnel action taken was more severe than normal. 

I’m sure it feels that way, but bad management styles or poor management decisions do not create “gross mismanagement.” Mismanagement is only gross when it poses a substantial risk of adversely impacting the Postal Service’s ability to accomplish its mission. It has also been used to describe a misuse of position, such as a postmaster directing maintenance contracts to an old friend. It is more than mere, trivial wrongdoing or negligence – there must be an element of blatancy.

That’s not to say there’s no recourse if you’re being treated this way. The best course of action is to file a Hotline complaint explaining the situation. The OIG’s Workplace Environment team works to remedy antagonistic work environments. 

The risk of retaliation against employee-whistleblowers is very real. Fill out our OIG Whistleblower Retaliation Form here and an investigator will contact you to discuss your allegations. 

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