USPS Office Of Inspector General Audit Report – Revenue for Official Mail from the House of Representatives Mailroom
Title 39, U.S.C Chapter 32, establishes the franked mail privilege for the vice president and members of Congress. The Postal Service accepts, processes, and delivers
franked mail sent under an authorized individual’s signature, or facsimile signature, without prepayment of postage. The Southern Maryland BMEU accepts and processes
mail from the House of Representatives, and the Eagan Accounting Service Center (ASC) bills the House Finance Office monthly for all House mailings processed
The Postal Service’s process for verifying and accepting franked mail at the Southern Maryland BMEU did not fully comply with Postal Service mail acceptance policy.
Further, the Eagan ASC could improve the controls over transferring bulk mailing transactions between computer systems to ensure invoices provided to the House are
complete and accurate.
The Southern Maryland BMEU did not count and report individually franked mailpieces presented by the House mailroom operator as required by Postal Service policy.2
Instead, the Postal Service relied solely on reports from the House Finance Office to prepare monthly invoices. BMEU management questioned whether all postage for
House mail was collected and why they did not have an opportunity to verify the piece counts. However, they continued to accept the mail with little or no verification because they did not have alternative verification processes, such as those available under an alternate mailing system agreement, approved for use. As a result, the Postal Service billed the House $3.2 million for mail from January 3, 2009, through January 2, 2010, without verifying the charges were accurate.
The House of Representatives makes payment for franked mail by appropriation to cover the postage and fees. The Postal Service records charges in FMRS based on actual usage. Unlike some commercial mailers who prepay their postage, House members do not prepay postage. The ASC prepares reports by individual House member each month, based on postage statements and the self-reported data provided by the House Finance Office. They send consolidated invoices to the House Finance Office. The House Finance Office reviews and reconciles invoices and then transmits payment to the Postal Service. Once the Postal Service finalizes a billing period, representatives can view their individual bills in FMRS.
BMEU Acceptance and Verification
The House mailroom usually presents three types of mailings to the Southern Maryland BMEU: automation and presorted letters; single-piece letters; and flats and parcels.
Postage statements accompany each of the letter mailings. There is no documentation presented with the flats and parcels mail. All of the mailings consist of nonidentical weight pieces. As a result, the BMEU cannot weight-verify the mail. Further, there are no SPPS agreements establishing alternative verification procedures. Because the unit cannot verify the number of pieces in the mail, they cannot verify postage.