Causes of the Postal Service FERS Surplus

October 16, 2012 (RARC-WP-13-001)

The Postal Service’s pension surplus was projected to be $13.1 billion as of the end of fiscal year 2011. Most of the surplus – $11.4 billion – is in the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) pension program. A surplus occurs when assets exceed accrued liability. FERS has been in surplus since 1992, and the OIG wanted to investigate the reasons behind this persistent surplus. Are there distinctive characteristics of the Postal Service and its employees that cause the surplus? And can the surplus be expected to continue?

Parallel Tracks? Lessons from the Railroad Industry

August 13, 2012 (RARC-WP-12-014)

The U.S. Postal Service is currently facing a financial crisis. The combination of the great recession and increased competition from electronic diversion has created the “perfect storm” of rapidly declining mail volumes. While severe, the Postal Service’s predicament does not seem to be entirely unique. There are many parallels to the freight rail industry, which suffered a significant loss of market share to the trucking industry in the 1950s, while it was burdened with an overbuilt network.

Postal Service Contributions to National Infrastructure

July 9, 2012 (RARC-WP-12-012)

Throughout its history, the U.S. Postal Service has contributed to the nation’s infrastructure. Highly subsidized postage rates for newspapers created a national market for information. The Post Office organized stagecoach service to transport mail and newspapers, supporting a passenger transportation network for the new nation. The Post Office Department was the first government entity to promote commercial air transportation, and mail contracts provided the initial support for what eventually became a great aviation industry.

Maximizing the Postal Service’s Workforce

Over the past few years, the U.S. Postal Service has implemented sweeping changes to streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve staff flexibilities. One such change was the creation of two new employee categories: the non-traditional full-time (NTFT) and postal support employee (PSE) positions. The Postal Service created the new employee categories to better align employees’ schedules with the work available. The NTFT position is a bid position—a position that Postal Service employees can bid on—with a regular weekly schedule of 30 to 48 hours.

OIG Releases Semiannual Report to Congress

The U.S. Postal Service faces significant financial, strategic, and operational challenges. As it presses for comprehensive reform legislation, the Postal Service continues to look for ways to reinvent its business model and adapt to technology. Despite the challenges, the Postal Service remains committed to its goals of improving service, generating income, improving its workforce and the workplace, and corporate responsibility.

The Global Logistics Revolution: A Pivotal Moment for the Postal Service

June 3, 2013 (RARC-WP-13-010)

The explosion of e-commerce parcels flooding postal networks is just one symptom of a confluence of forces characterized by increasing globalization, the expanding digital revolution, and changes in manufacturing and transportation. Together, these forces are transforming the global logistics market, altering hundreds of years of traditional commerce, and resulting in major implications for postal operators.

Re-evaluating Span of Control Targets

Span of control is defined as the number of subordinates in an organization who report directly to one supervisor and is determined by evaluating several factors. Some examples of these factors include, but are not limited to nature of work, degree of risk in the work for the organization, similarity of activities performed, and qualifications, experience and geographic location of subordinates. The U.S. Postal Service has established a span of control target of one supervisor for every 25 craft employees (1:25 ratio).

Postal Employee Sentenced for Stealing $3.5 Million in U.S. Treasury Checks

When the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) learned that a postal employee was possibly involved in the theft of U.S. Treasury checks from the mail, the agency’s special agents began investigating immediately. Investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, and Veterans Affairs also joined the investigation.

What America Wants from the Postal Service

May 21, 2013 (RARC-WP-13-009)

America’s communications needs are continually evolving. Individuals and businesses have become increasingly reliant on electronic means of transacting business and exchanging information. However, not everyone has access to and uses digital communications. The U.S. Postal Service is at a critical juncture in determining its role in meeting America’s communications needs in the digital age.

Former Letter Carrier Is “Running Off” to Prison


A Maryland rural letter carrier, who began receiving federal workers’ compensation benefits in 2001 after an on-the-job injury to her head and neck, was also operating a fitness center, day spa, and salon from January 2005 through December 2011. Investigators from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Department of Labor OIG determined that the letter carrier, who claimed she was unable to work due to her disability and filed yearly Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP) claim forms to that effect, reported to the salon on a regular basis.

Postal Service Cracks Down on Money Order Fraud

The sale of domestic and internal money orders represents over $100 million in revenue annually for the U.S. Postal Service. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, revenue generated from sales of these money orders was $129 million. As a control to identify errors, the Postal Service each month performs a reconciliation of the cashed amount and the face value of a sold money order. During FYs 2010 through 2012, reconciliation differences averaged $2.1 million annually. We initiated an audit to determine whether money order controls are sufficient to detect fraud in a timely manner.

Postal Service Plans to Increase Hybrid Mail Revenue

Hybrid mail allows customers to send letters in a digital format and recipients to receive the letters physically in envelopes. Various carriers have successfully introduced hybrid mail services in the global marketplace. The U.S. Postal Service offers hybrid mail services through agreements with three affiliated partners: Click2Mail,, and Premium Postcard. In fiscal year (FY) 2011, the Postal Service introduced its own hybrid mail platform, the Direct Mail Hub.

Virtual Post Office Boxes

April 17, 2013 (Report Number MS-WP-13-002)

Communication is rapidly changing. Mail and telephone calls are at one end of a continuum that now includes email, instant messaging, tweets, texts, and wall posts. People communicate anywhere and everywhere. They make decisions, coordinate activities, and do business at home, at work, at airports, and in coffee shops.

Postal Service Gets in Shape to Ship

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has contracts with carriers, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service, to provide goods and services to federal agencies at discount prices. During fiscal years (FY) 2011 and 2012, federal agencies spent approximately $343 million and $337 million, respectively, to ship goods and services through GSA contracts. The U.S. Postal Service earned $1.2 million of that revenue in FY 2011 and $4.8 million in FY 2012, less than 2 percent of the overall market share.

Abbott Laboratories Pays $1.5 Billion Settlement for Illegal Marketing of Drug

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General special agents joined other federal investigators in a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of Abbott Laboratories’ “off-label” marketing of the drug Depakote, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug for the treatment of bipolar (manic depression) symptoms.