The following excerpts were taken from the USPS OIG Report on “Officers’ Travel and Representation Expenses for Fiscal Year 2011”
WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
Officers’ travel and representation expenses totaling about $700,000 were supported. However, officers did not always comply with Officers’ Travel and Representation Expense Guidelines (Guidelines) when claiming expenses incurred during official travel and representation. Specifically, we found issues regarding reimbursement claims, international travel approval letters, travel deviation requests, alcohol purchases, and parking fees.
WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:
We are not making recommendations because in FY 2011, management made several staff changes that impacted the oversight of the officers travel reimbursement process. Also, management revised the Guidelines in July 2011 and will provide necessary training to the officers and their administrative assistants on them by the end of FY 2012. Additionally, because revised Guidelines now require reimbursements based on per diem rather than actual expenses, alcohol as part of meal reimbursement claims will no longer be an issue.
During FY 2011, the Postal Service made changes to the Postal Service Officers’ Travel and Representation Expense Guidelines (Guidelines)3 for officers’ travel and representation expenses. A postmaster general (PMG) memorandum, dated July 29, 2011, notified officers that management revised the Guidelines, and included a copy of the revised document. The revisions incorporated eight major changes, including reimbursements based on General Services Administration (GSA) per diem rates rather than actual expenses.
Officers’ travel and representation expenses, totaling about $700,000, were supported. However, officers did not always comply with the Guidelines when claiming expenses incurred during official travel and for representation. Specifically, we reviewed 68 of the 972 total reimbursements and found 17 issues regarding reimbursement claims, international travel approval letters, travel deviation requests, alcohol purchases, and parking fees. Although these instances did not materially affect the overall financial statements, officers not only shape the strategic direction of the Postal Service by setting goals, targets, and indicators within the framework established by the Board but also set the tone at the top of the organization. Accordingly, they must always follow established Guidelines to set an excellent standard for the rest of the Postal Service.
On four separate occasions of 68 reviewed, officers claimed wine or hard liquor as a reimburseable expense. In one instance, three officers were attending the National Postal Forum and purchased a bottle of wine with their meals while at dinner together after the conference. We did not find any documentation provided with the reimbursement claim indicating their meals were part of a working meeting. Had this documentation been provided, the expense would have complied with Postal Service policies.9
In two instances, officers were reimbursed for wine or beer purchased with their meals while on official travel although the purchases were not related to any officer-approved internal or external event. Postal Service policy allows purchases of wine and beer to be served with officer-approved internal or external events
Finally, an officer claimed hard liquor purchased at a representation function that did not include international guests. At the time of this event, the Guidelines did not allow for purchases of hard liquor for any officer-approved functions related to a business activity. When officers do not follow established Guidelines for alcohol purchases, they are not setting a standard of excellence for the rest of the organization.
Guidelines, dated April 13, 2009, page 5, Meals, item number 4, did not allow for purchase of hard liquor. Revised Guidelines, dated July 29, 2011, page 7, Representation, item 4, allow hard liquor only if there are international guests, as appropriate for the occasion
See full USPS OIG Audit Officers’ Travel and Representation Expenses for Fiscal Year 2011