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Breast Cancer Research Stamp: Effective Fund-Raiser but Better Reporting and Cost-Recovery Criteria Needed

GAO-03-1021 Published: Sep 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 2003.
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In America, breast cancer is reported as the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Given this statistic, the importance of finding a cure cannot be overemphasized. To supplement the billions of federal dollars being spent on breast cancer research, Congress passed legislation creating the Breast Cancer Research Semipostal (BCRS) to increase public awareness of the disease and allow the public to participate directly in raising funds for such research. Since the BCRS was the first semipostal issued by the Postal Service, Congress mandated, and GAO issued, a report in April 2000 on the BCRS' cost, effectiveness, and appropriateness as a fund-raiser. After the report, Congress extended the BCRS sales period through 2003. As mandated, this report updates GAO's prior work as Congress considers another extension to the BCRS sales period.

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Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
If Congress decides to extend the sales period for the BCRs past its scheduled end date of December 31, 2003, it may wish to consider establishing a requirement tht NIH and DOD annually report to Congress, similar to the requirement for agencies that are to receive surcharge revenues generated from semipostals issued under the Semipostal Authorization Act.
Closed – Not Implemented
In January 2004, Congress amended the Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act by extending the sales period for the BCRS to December 31, 2005, but did not include a requirement that NIH and DOD annually report to Congress on how they used the surcharge revenues.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Postal Service The Postmaster General should direct postal management to make available the cost data and analyses showing which BCRS costs have been recovered through the First-Class postage rate to provide assurance that postal ratepayers are not involuntarily contributing funds to breast cancer research.
Closed – Implemented
In June 2004, USPS provided a copy of cost data analysis to both the Congress and GAO in a report titled "United States Postal Service: Response to the General Accounting Office Recommendations on the Breast Cancer Research Stamp". This analysis contained details of the costs associated with the BCRS and USPS' rationale for determining whether the costs should be recouped from the First-Class postage rate or surcharge revenue.
United States Postal Service The Postmaster General should reexamine and, as necessary, revise the Service's December 2001 cost-recovery regulations to ensure that the Service establishes baseline costs for comparable commemorative stamps and uses these baselines to identify and recoup excess costs from the BCRS' surcharge revenue. As part of that process, the Postmaster General should publish the baseline costs it is using. This would help provide assurance that the Service is recouping all reasonable costs of the BCRS from the surcharge revenue.
Closed – Implemented
As of February 2005, USPS had taken the following actions: (1) revised its regulations to clarify USPS cost offset policies and procedures for the Semipostal Program; (2) amended the regulations to delete the word "may" from the cost items recoverable from the surcharge revenue, making the recovery of the costs listed mandatory rather than optional; (3) established a baseline for BCRS cost recovery; and (4) provided a copy of USPS' baseline analysis to both Congress and GAO in a report titled "United States Postal Service: Response to the General Accounting Office Recommendations on the Breast Cancer Research Stamp".

Full Report

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Cancer researchFunds managementResearch and development costsCost effectiveness analysisPostal serviceReporting requirementsNoncompliancePostage stampsBreast cancer researchBreast cancer