Purchasing makes up a significant portion of annual expenses for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). USPS has recently made significant changes to its purchasing regulations which, according to USPS, will result in a more businesslike purchasing process. Some stakeholders, including smaller suppliers who stated they rely on USPS for the majority of their business, have raised concerns about these changes. GAO was asked to (1) describe these changes, stakeholder views, and USPS's rationale for the changes and (2) assess how these changes reflect the principles of postal reform and practices of leading organizations and identify areas, if any, for continued oversight.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|United States Postal Service||1. The Postmaster General should take actions to address the inconsistencies in USPS's ombudsman with the leading principles and practices related to independence and impartiality. USPS should consult with expert ombudsman and dispute resolution organizations to explore options related to its intended purpose for the ombudsman position and alternatives for changing this position to conform to leading principles and practices. If USPS wants to retain the ombudsman position, it should revise (1) the ombudsman's reporting relationship to the purchasing organization so that it is independent and neutral; (2) the ombudsman's role so that it makes recommendations rather than final, binding decisions; and (3) the appeals provision so that it applies to the final, binding agency decision rather than the ombudsman's recommendation. Another alternative is that USPS could eliminate the ombudsman position and use other dispute resolution mechanisms, such as ADR. USPS could then designate another agency official to make the final, binding decision. For either alternative, USPS would need to change its regulations and guidance accordingly.|