Mail Management:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Can Further Reduce Its Postage Costs

GGD-91-44: Published: Mar 19, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed opportunities to reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) postage costs through improved mail management.

GAO found that: (1) during fiscal year 1989, VA incurred $48 million in postage costs and obtained about $6.3 million in postage discounts; (2) VA could save an additional $4 million annually by increasing its mailing of prescription drugs and other pharmacy items at the fourth-class rate; (3) VA could alleviate concerns regarding the timeliness of fourth-class services to some areas by changing its prescription renewal schedule policy or using alternative private-sector mail carriers when it did not consider fourth-class service adequate; and (4) VA had no plans to increase its use of fourth-class mail, since it was considering the possibility of centralizing the prescription mailings, but those plans were in the proposal stage and would not be implemented until 1992 or 1993.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA disagreed with the recommendation but initiated a selective 90-day prescription filling policy that reduced mailing cost. Disagreement is based on VA medical policy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should revise the prescription renewal schedule to allow veterans to renew prescriptions more than 10 days before they are depleted.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA disagreed with the recommendation based on medical policy and quality of medical care. VA policy states the facilities are to use the lowest cost service and VA will encourage centers to use fourth-class mail.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the medical centers to reevaluate the adequacy of fourth-class service at each center and require the centers to mail prescription drugs and other pharmacy items fourth-class where service is determined to be adequate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA policy recommends medical centers use alternate carriers if cost effective. No further action will be taken by VA.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the medical centers to consider use of alternative mail carriers, if cost-effective, at centers where fourth-class service is not considered adequate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

 

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