U.S. Postal Service Actions to Improve Its Financial Reporting
GAO-03-26R: Published: Nov 13, 2002. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2002.
Over the past 2 years, we have been raising concerns and have made recommendations regarding the lack of sufficient and timely periodic information on the U.S. Postal Service's financial condition and outlook available to the public between publications of its audited year-end financial statements. This report responds to a request that we provide periodic updates on several key areas related to the Service's financial outlook, including improvements in financial and performance reporting. Specifically, this report discusses actions taken by the Service to address our past recommendations to provide sufficient, more timely, and accessible financial reports as well as our assessment of the Service's responses.
Transparency is particularly important because the Service is the hub of a $900 billion mailing industry and is a vital part of the nation's communications network. Its recent financial difficulties have accentuated the need for stakeholders--including the Congress, Postal Rate Commission, and mailers--to be well apprised of the Service's financial situation and understand how future operating results may be affected by impending events. Although the service has traditionally provided a range of detailed financial and operating data to stakeholders throughout the fiscal year, its periodic financial reports have not clearly explained changes in its financial condition, results of operations, and outlook and have not always been readily available to the public. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires that quarterly reports submitted by publicly traded companies include a discussion of material changes in a company's financial condition and results of operations. This type of discussion is consistent with the intent of our recommendations.