(September 6, 2014) The USPS Office of Inspector General has released a long-awaited audit report on the post office relocation process. The report faults the Postal Service on a number of counts — lack of transparency, not following postal regulations, the conflicting roles of the Vice President of Facilities — and it has already led management to promise to make some changes.
According to the OIG, “The process for relocating facilities was not always transparent. Further, the vice president, Facilities, has conflicting responsibilities for approving funding and adjudicating relocation appeals…. Further, there were no requirements to track all relocations and officials did not always know the specific guidelines and processes. Consequently, the public and local officials may not have had the information they needed to make informed comments and determine the impact of a relocation, potentially harming the Postal Service’s relationship with the public.”
The Vice President of Facilities, Mr. Tom Samra, responded to the report by rejecting the OIG’s finding that he had conflicting roles. “Management disagrees with the OIG’s statement that the responsibilities are conflicting,” wrote Mr. Samra, “and Management notes that nothing in the report demonstrates that the roles are, in fact, conflicting. Further, because the report provides no support for concluding the responsibilities conflict and because the OIG found no improprieties in the process, the report’s statement that ‘the public may see this official as lacking objectivity,’ therefore appears unfounded.”
Mr. Samra has apparently not been listening very closely to what people have been saying. Communities across the country have criticized the Postal Service for giving him this dual authority. It has made the appeals process appear meaningless, and it has engendered quite a bit of ill will toward Mr. Samra. In response to Mr. Samra’s comment, the OIG simply observes that while it may not have identified specific improprieties, “this is not evident to the public.”
In any case, the Postal Service has agreed to revise its procedures, and it will remove Mr. Samra’s dual responsibilities for approving funding and adjudicating appeals.