U.S. Postal Service:

Postal Inspection Service's Independence and Reporting Requirements

AFMD-87-24: Published: Apr 16, 1987. Publicly Released: May 19, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) compared the Postal Inspection Service with other federal agencies' statutory inspectors general (IG); and (2) provided information on the Inspection Service's reporting requirements.

GAO found that: (1) the Inspection Service performs work similar to that performed by agency IG; (2) the reporting line for the Chief Postal Inspector, the head of the Inspection Service, is similar to those for agency IG, but the Inspector is not as independent as agency IG because the Postmaster General has the authority to appoint or terminate the Inspector; and (3) this arrangement could lead to questions about the Inspection Service's independence. GAO also found that the Inspection Service is not required to report the results of its work to Congress, as agency IG are required to do.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress strengthened the independence of the Chief Postal Inspector through the Inspector General Amendments Act of 1988, signed into law in October 1988.

    Matter: To strengthen the Inspection Service's actual and perceived independence, Congress may wish to consider taking one of several actions to change the current appointment and termination authority of the position of Chief Postal Inspector, including: (1) amending the Inspector General Act of 1978 to create a statutory inspector general at the Postal Service; (2) amending the Postal Reorganization Act and placing the appointment authority with the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and requiring congressional notification upon termination; (3) amending the Postal Reorganization Act to place the appointment authority with the Board of Governors and to require congressional notification upon termination; (4) encouraging the Postal Service to place the authority for appointment and termination with the Postmaster General, with the advice and consent of the Board; or (5) encouraging the Postal Service to place the appointment and termination authority with the Board.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congress decided not to give the Chief Postal Inspector the same degree of independence as that possessed by the statutory IG.

    Matter: If Congress desires to give the Chief Postal Inspector the same degree of independence as that possessed by IG, it should legislate presidential appointment of the head of the Inspection Service, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Congress should also give only the President the authority to terminate the Chief Postal Inspector. The reasons for such termination should be communicated to Congress, as is required for the termination of IG.

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Inspector General Act of 1978 was amended to require the Chief Postal Inspector to report semiannually to Congress.

    Matter: To ensure that it receives information on the results of the Inspection Service's audits and investigations and to help evaluate the operations of the Postal Service, Congress may wish to require that the Inspection Service prepare semiannual and other reports similar to those prepared by IG. Congress could do this in several ways, including: (1) amending the Inspector General Act of 1978 to create a statutory inspector general at the Postal Service and, thereby, require those reports; or (2) amending the Postal Reorganization Act to require semiannual and other reports to Congress.

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Inspector General Act of 1978 was amended to require the Chief Postal Inspector to report semiannually to Congress.

    Matter: Another alternative, which would not require congressional action, would be for the Postmaster General or the Board of Governors to require that the Inspection Service prepare the reports currently required of IG. These reports could be sent to the Postmaster General, the Board, and Congress.

 

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