Our objective was to determine whether the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Division, implemented effective controls for accountable property, case management, and training. Based on risk analysis of closed case count and workhours, number of hotline referrals, and National Compliance Review occurrence, we selected the New York Division for our review.
The mission of the Postal Inspection Service is to support and protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation’s mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.
Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents responsible for enforcing more than 200 federal statutes that deal with the Postal Service and the U.S. mail.
Postal inspectors use various tools and resources to carry out their mission, which includes the Case Management System used to open and close cases, and to document and track case activities. In addition, postal inspectors are assigned accountable property, such as firearms and vehicles, to perform their work.
The New York Division has 89 postal inspectors. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, it had 294 closed, jacketed cases. A jacketed case is opened when there is indication or occurrence of criminal activity warranting further review. We reviewed a random sample of 60 closed, jacketed cases in FY 2018.
What the OIG Found
The Postal Inspection Service provided required threat management training to postal inspectors and instructors. However, the Postal Inspection Service has not consistently implemented effective controls for accountable property and case management.
Specifically, opportunities exist to strengthen controls over high-value evidence, inventory management, undercover operations, and case management. We found:
- Postal inspectors did not properly package, track, and store high-value evidence. Specifically, out of 66 total pieces, three [redacted] were torn and had to be repackaged during our site visit; one piece of [redacted] evidence did not have matching dates on the sealed bag and the evidence tracking system; and one piece of grand jury evidence was not kept separate from other evidence, as required per policy.
- New York Division personnel did not adequately track and conduct annual inventories of [redacted] postal inspectors’ offices, Postal Service facilities with lookout galleries, and the evidence room.
- Postal inspectors did not receive the required approvals to conduct undercover operations for five of seven cases in our sample that had undercover operations.
- Postal inspectors did not prepare field notes for 44 of 60 (73 percent) cases; and prepare a signed, detailed list of seized items or properties for 4 of 40 (10 percent) cases with an arrest.
Overall, these conditions occurred due to inconsistent management oversight and insufficient policy or procedures. Specifically:
- Policy does not specify the quality or durability of storage materials needed for securely packaging [redacted] evidence.
- Management and a postal inspector were unaware and unable to explain the mislabeling of evidence.
- A postal inspector was unaware of the policy for storing grand jury material separately from other evidence.
- Procedures did not exist to track to [redacted] employees or conduct an annual inventory.
- Management did not consider [redacted] as undercover operations due to policy inconsistency.
- Case management reporting requirements were not consistently followed.
- A prior audit report identified issues concerning case management requirements and recommended management provide refresher training to team leaders on investigative documentation requirements and proper case closure procedures. Management agreed and plans to provide the training by September 30, 2020; therefore, we are not making a recommendation for this issue.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Update policy to include guidelines for packaging [redacted] evidence.
- Reiterate the policy related to high-value evidence to postal inspectors.
- Reiterate policy for tracking [redacted] and [redacted] assigned to postal inspectors and conducting an inventory of the [redacted].
- Update policy to provide consistent guidance for [redacted] as related to undercover operations.
- Update policy to require undercover operation approvals be stored in the Case Management System.
Read full report
Source: USPS Office of Inspector General