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Background

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) uses data analytics, including predictive risk models and tripwires, to evaluate the U.S. Postal Service’s financial information. The analytics seek to target financial anomalies that occur at field units. 

The OIG’s Field Financial Risk Model and our Office of Investigations’ Local Payment Tripwire identified that the Pottstown, PA, Post Office made about $38,000 in local purchases and payments using no-fee money orders from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016. 

The Postal Service prefers to pay for its goods and services through its electronic purchasing system. When that is not possible, authorized users may use assigned credit cards. Cash not to exceed $25, or a no-fee money order not to exceed $1,000, may be used to make a one-time emergency payment. 

The objective of this audit was to determine whether internal controls were in place and effective for making local purchases and payments at the Pottstown Post Office. 

What the OIG Found

The unit paid 14 invoices for landscaping, utilities, and a rental van using 28 no-fee money orders. Multiple money orders were used to pay some invoices because the invoices exceeded the single payment limit of $1,000 for money orders. Further, the unit made seven cash payments valued at $180.63 for items other than the allowable one-time emergencies and one of those payments exceeded the $25 payment limit. 

Pottstown management was aware of the Postal Service’s preferred payment methods. However, the retail associate responsible for local payments used cash and no-fee money orders to expedite payments to vendors based on instruction from a previous postmaster. 

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management implement controls to ensure retail associates are aware of and use the preferred payment methods and adhere to the no-fee money order single payment limit policy. Internal controls for making local purchases and payments were not always effective and needed improvement. We verified 105 payments valued at $38,099 for goods and services were made using cash and no-fee money orders instead of the Postal Service’s preferred payment methods. 

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