Postal Service:

Annual Distribution of 1990 Marketing Costs

GGD-91-77BR: Published: May 8, 1991. Publicly Released: May 8, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) Marketing and Customer Service Group's end-of-fiscal-year spending practices, focusing on whether the Group's spending patterns were similar to other federal agencies that made obligations in the final days of the fiscal year to avoid a loss of budget authority and reduce the likelihood of future appropriation cuts.

GAO found that: (1) 18 percent of the Group's 1990 expenditures occurred in the last 4-week accounting period of the fiscal year and 26 percent occurred in the last two periods; (2) if the Group had evenly distributed expenditures, those periods would have accounted for about 8 percent each, or a total of 16 percent, of annual expenditures; (3) the spending pattern occurred in the Group's major expense categories, except personnel costs, which remained relatively constant throughout the year; (4) personnel expenses accounted for 9 percent of the Group's expenditures; (5) goods and services comprised about 87 percent of the Group's budget, with expenditures being heavier in the last one or two accounting periods; (6) 28 percent of travel, 24 percent of supplies, 25 percent of services, and 32 percent of printing expenditures occurred in the last accounting period; (7) USPS believed that only the year-end increase in advertising expenditures was due to an unplanned, end-of-year decision; and (8) the other increases either fit an annual expenditure pattern or were related to items or activities that the Group ordered or initiated earlier in the year.

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