If we had a penny for every time someone confused our Office of Inspector General (OIG) with our parent agency, the U.S. Postal Service, we’d be… well, let’s just say Jan Brady would understand! However, with six organizations bearing the term “postal” in their name, it’s hard to avoid confusion about who does what. Let’s take a Venn-type look at all these entities.
We want to wish all workers a very happy Labor Day, but especially the employees of the Postal Service! The Postal Service is a huge organization with a workforce of more than 635,000 employees as of the end of last year. The vast majority of postal employees — 98 percent — work in field positions around the country.
Mail Processing & Transportation
A delivery unit is usually the last postal facility in the delivery process. That’s where clerks and carriers get the mail ready so it can be loaded onto each mail carrier’s vehicle (or bike or pushcart). In the old days, delivery units often sorted parcels to each route by hand. This is time-consuming when there are a lot of parcels, and in 2014, the Postal Service deployed automated sorters for small packages at some delivery units. More sophisticated parcel sorters were introduced in 2021.
Never underestimate your role in safeguarding America’s trust in the U.S. Postal Service. While we get ideas for new work from various sources, including Congressional requests and mainstream media reporting, the most prominent avenue for reporting fraud, waste, and abuse within USPS is the OIG Hotline. In the first half of fiscal year 2023, we received 88,691 Hotline contacts alone.
Postal Service flats have a problem. As a group, they don’t cover their costs. Last year, they collectively lost about $630 million. First, what are flats? They are not European apartments or a type of shoe. In the postal context, “flats” are large mailpieces between the size of a typical letter and a thicker parcel. Full-size envelopes, magazines, and catalogs are all considered flats. It’s a very popular format.