USPS OIG Report: Internal Controls Over Retail Sales Transactions – Norman, OK, Main Office

Background

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General uses tripwires to identify financial anomalies. Tripwires are analytic tools that look at specific behaviors and patterns that are strong indicators of improper activity. From August 1, 2016, to August 31, 2016, our tripwire showed the Norman, OK, Main Office reported fewer stamp sales than other post offices nationwide.

Retail transactions, such as stamp sales, returns, and voids, are recorded in the Retail Systems Software (RSS). Other transactions, such as mail and delivery services performed at the retail window, are also recorded in the system; however, these types of transactions are recorded as non-revenue customer visits. Retail associates (RA) are responsible for accurately entering all retail transactions in the RSS, which is used to track unit productivity, revenue, and customer service.

The objective of this audit was to review the internal controls over retail sales transactions at the Norman Main Office.

What the OIG Found

We found no issues with stamp sales during the period we reviewed. We determined the reduced number of stamp sales identified by our tripwire was due to an RA dividing time between passport acceptance and retail sales. However, internal controls over the retail sales transactions needed improvement.

We identified 43 stamp sales valued at $1,747 that were voided then incorrectly categorized as non-revenue visits in the RSS due to an RSS (system) error. Also, no payments were received for the transactions but revenue was reported for four of them. Unit management could not determine why this occurred.

Also, an RA maintained stamp inventory in her cash drawer instead of the unit’s vault as required for those types of stamps. Also, the RA did not document the transfer of the stamps in her drawer from the unit reserve stamp stock inventory. Further, she purchased stamps from her cash drawer for personal use. The RA stated she was not aware of the requirements for maintaining stamp inventory, stamp stock transfers, and purchasing stamps from the cash drawer.

If controls over retail sales transactions are not in place or followed, there is increased risk of inaccurate productivity measurements, incomplete financial reporting, and undetected theft or loss of stamps and cash.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management coordinate with Information Technology to resolve the RSS system error and monitor the accuracy of future transactions. We also recommended management implement controls to ensure RAs properly complete inventory transfers and stamp sales.

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Source: USPS Office of Inspector General

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