The Office of Inspector General is tasked with ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the U.S. Postal Service. We also have the distinct mission of helping to maintain confidence in the mail and postal system, as well as to improve the Postal Service's bottom line. We use audits and investigations to help protect the integrity of the Postal Service. Our Semiannual Report to Congress presents a snapshot of the work we did to fulfill our mission for the six-month period ending March 31, 2021. Our dynamic report format provides readers with easy access to facts and information, as well as succinct summaries of the work by area. Links are provided to the full reports featured in this report, as well as to the appendices.
A MESSAGE FROM THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
As we pass the one-year mark of the declaration of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service continue to rise, making our oversight more important than ever. Over the past six months, we audited multiple aspects of the Postal Service’s response to the early stages of the pandemic. We found that early in the pandemic, the Postal Service did a commendable job of delivering the mail, although it did not always effectively identify and prioritize medical packages. In addition, we found the Postal Service took important steps to ensure the safety of its employees, which likely resulted in lives saved.
We also conducted several audits on service performance. Starting in early summer, the Postal Service introduced various operational and organizational changes. We found, when deployed on top of employee absences due to COVID-19, these changes negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery.
Election Mail was a significant area of focus for both our Office of Audit and Office of Investigations, further described in an Election Mail section of this report. We found the Postal Service successfully prioritized the processing of Election Mail during the November 2020 general election and the subsequent Georgia runoff election. Throughout all of our work, data analytics and innovative uses of technology played an increasingly important role, from helping agents identify areas of concern to allowing hundreds of employees to report daily Election Mail findings.
In addition to their work on Election Mail, our agents coordinated with the Postal Service, Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and other partners to ensure the safe delivery of the second round of economic impact payments. In addition, our agents ramped up investigative efforts to combat and deter postal employees involved in drug trafficking. This includes the creation of four strike forces located in major metropolitan areas which are focusing on the abuse of the mail network in the delivery of illicit drugs.
This report, submitted pursuant to the Inspector General Act, outlines our work and activities for the six-month period ending March 31, 2021. During this period, we issued 53 audit reports, management advisories, and white papers, and the Postal Service accepted 92 percent of our recommendations. We completed 1,331 investigations that led to 531 arrests and more than $152.7 million in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, almost $30.2 million of which was returned to the Postal Service. I look forward to working with stakeholders as we address the challenges ahead as the Postal Service begins to implement its 10-year plan. I am proud of what we have accomplished during this period and am confident that our office will continue to play a key role in ensuring the integrity and accountability of America’s Postal Service, its revenues and assets, and its employees.