Inspector General finds employees misused USPS credit cards

According to the Inspector general’s office, the USPS has not been doing a good job policing employees’ use of government travel credit cards. The OIG found $600,000 in improper charges, including “adult entertainment”, trips to Europe for family and friends, and high priced hotel accomodations:

Postal Service employees did not comply with prescribed travel policies resulting in over $600,000 in excessive travel costs for lodging and airfare in FYs 2009 and 2010. We estimate the Postal Service could realize an additional $600,000 in savings over the next 2 years, or $300,000 annually, if it takes action to curtail employee noncompliance with travel policies. Further, the Postal Service did not cancel 2,491 credit cards issued to former employees, including 53 employees listed as deceased in employee records. At the time of our audit, there was more than $37 million in open credit associated with cards of former employees.

The OIG listed examples of travel card misuse:

  • One employee claimed 326 lodging nights for reimbursement over a 20-month period that, in total, exceeded the prescribed government lodging rates by $17,877.
  • Postal Service employees claimed lodging charges for reimbursement for the 2009 and 2010 National Postal Forums that exceeded the prescribed government lodging rates by $88,983.
  • Two employees on an extended detail assignment for the majority of FY 2009 charged a total of $11,000 over the prescribed government lodging rates.
  • Three employees purchased airfare tickets, including tickets to Spain and Italy, for family and friends.
  • One employee purchased an Apple computer and paid his mortgage.
  • One employee used his government issued travel card more than 50 times at adult entertainment establishments.

Audit Report – Compliance With Travel Policies and Opportunities for Cost Savings

  • george straight

    Charging inappropriate items is a violation of regulations and ethically wrong, but the article doesn’t mention that the responsibility for the charges is on the traveler, not the postal service. They mention that they charged things that shouldn’t have been made, but they don’t mention who had to pay the charge. The article makes it sound like the USPS had to pay these charges.
    That’s likely NOT the case.

  • amazing….

    In 2006, 3 years after I retired from USPS, I received another updated Postal credit card! As a former member of the Sales and Marketing team, I had a responsibility to notify the creditor and the USPS to cancel it, and I did. It all boils down to our honesty and values as a child of the King…there will be a time when all will stand before His throne and give an account for our actions.

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  • brian

    george- There’s nothing misleading in the article- the $600,000 is execessive travel reimbursements, not inappropriate usage of credit cards. Those are two separate issues- you’re correct that employees, not the USPS are responsible for paying their credit card bills. But the $600K represents charges reimbursed to employees in excess of what was allowed. That IS $600K that the USPS paid out.

  • Rob

    I was OIC when a supervisor was found to have used card for personal use. The charges were paid by the employee although the last charges a little late. Ended up recommending demotion to clerk from EAS position. Was not appealed as I did my homework & investigated properly. No one could support any appeal with a very reasonable consequence.

  • Representative

    I represented a Supervisor that was charged with using his card for AOL and cash at a casino. He paid the bill and said his wife used the card by mistake. I asked for and received a list of managers that had used their postal card and had been charged. Some of the managers had run up over $100,000 on the card for personal use. A lot of this seemed to be covered up and nothing was done. The charges against the manager that I was representing were dropped.
    It looked like a lot of managers in the NY Metro area were stealing and getting away with it.

  • George Straight

    Brian,

    i wasn’t referring to that part; but I agree with you. The actual reports states that “we identified more than
    $349,317 in inappropriate purchases” but never mention the issue I raised (which infers that the USPS would have to pay this)

    Let me clear that I think its a disgrace that anyone would violate the travel card or any other fiduciary responsibility……and it does impact goodwill and loss of rebates from with the credit card company.

    One other point….many times (especially on short notice) it is impossible to get a government rate for hotels. Many hotels limit the availibility of government rates.

    And a side note…..maybe the OIG should focus some attention on another travel issue related to costs….employees are mandated to purchase government fares for airlines (which are fully refundable) and cost, in some cases, many times more than the lowest commercially available fare.

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  • Yoshi

    It’s stealing and they should be fired. Because if a carrier miss used their gas card for a pack of gum the postal service would want their job. But management at any level outright steal and somehow that’s OK.

  • Danny

    That’s management for you!

  • brian

    Yoshi- I’m not defending people who misuse travel cards, but bear in mind that these cards are personal credit cards in the employee’s name, they aren’t the same as the gas cards you use for official vehicles. It is totally against the rules to use them for personal purchases, but it isn’t “stealing”- the employee is responsible for paying the charges exactly the same as if he’d used his own credit card.

  • trout

    there has to be more to this than is currently reported…
    anyone who uses their government credit card for personal use is an idiot and should be disciplined at the very least…..though they are not stealing since it is in their name and their personal account….I know a supervisor who charged beanie babies on her AMEX card by mistake (this was before we changed to CITI) the finance manager caught it before the statement even came in……she was reprimanded….

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  • Yoshi

    Brian bear in mind if it is not work related the card should not be use, even if its in your name. The people with the cards are responsible for running the post office. And if they can’t handle something as small as a credit card. So honest mistakes OK, but knowingly using it because you can is stealing. Clothing from target, that’s stealing. O’ wait that’s ok he’s a pum. Don’t understand how that’s not stealing.

  • brian

    Yoshi- everyone is well aware of the fact that travel cards are intended to be used only for official travel. Using it for personal purchases is wrong, but it is not stealing. As has been pointed out over and over again, these cards are issued in the name of the employee, and the employee is billed by Citibank for all purchases, not the USPS. How can you call that stealing?
    trout- I think the problem is that each Area and District is responsible for reviewing their own credit card statements- some do a better job than others, some probably don’t even bother.

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