USPS OIG Says Workshare Audit Will Include Union’s Views

The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has assured the APWU that the union’s views on “workshare discounts” will be considered in an upcoming examination of the controversial practice. Inspector General David C. Williams offered the commitment after President William Burrus criticized the OIG for excluding postal unions from providing input for the report.

“We do hope to interview you as we did earlier on the same subject for one of our research papers,” Williams wrote on June 2 [PDF]. “You concluded that we did not plan to interview you from looking at the web page. I can see how you came to that conclusion,” he continued. “Thanks for being available to us and I am sorry that you concluded, as I would have, that we were not going to seek your views.”

In a May 21 letter [PDF] to the Inspector General, Burrus pointed out that the audit announcement said the OIG planned to interview a range of “stakeholders,” including mailers’ representatives, but made no mention of interviewing the APWU or other postal unions. The mailers are the beneficiaries of the discounts, Burrus observed, while the APWU has been an outspoken opponent of excessive discounts.

“The American Postal Workers Union has a long history of denouncing excessive discounts and pointing out that they fail to comply with federal law,” Burrus wrote. “Therefore, I was extremely disappointed that your announcement of the audit” excluded postal unions from the consultative process.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) stipulates that postage discounts may not exceed “postal costs avoided,” but a March 29, 2010, report by the Postal Regulatory Commission [PDF] found that 30 types of postal discounts exceed the legal standard.

Despite his criticism of the OIG’s methods, Burrus praised the office for undertaking the study. “Given the loss of billions of dollars annually, this subject should have been reviewed long ago,” he wrote.

The audit for Fiscal Year 2009 will “determine whether Postal Service workshare discounts in excess of avoided costs were reasonable.”