The US Postal Service’s Inspector General has released a report criticizing the way the USPS cares for the historic buildings and works of art it is responsible for. The OIG report comes on the heels of another critical assessment of USPS practices by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation last week. Here’s the OIG’s summary of its findings:
WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
The Postal Service did not know how many historic properties it owned or what it cost to preserve them, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act. It did not report the status of historic artwork to the National Museum of American Art, as required by Postal Service Handbook RE-6, Facilities and Environmental Guide, when it sold 10 historic post offices.
The Postal Service did not collaborate with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve its compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and did not submit its 2011 status report to the council. The council could help the Postal Service establish covenants to protect historic features and help secure covenant holders to monitor compliance with those covenants. Also, the council could help review public requests to participate in the preservation process. The Postal Service could also use the U.S. General Services Administration — which employs experienced real estate and historical preservation professionals — to assist in the preservation process.
The vice president, Facilities, who approves funding for the relocation of retail services and disposal, also issues the final determination letter after reviewing appeals raised during the process. This gives the appearance of bias. Three of the nine relocations were
appealed and he denied all three appeals.
The Postal Service appropriately applied relocation procedures rather than discontinuance procedures for all
nine properties we reviewed. However, officials did not post the public meeting notification 7 days in advance for one property, as required, and could not show documentation that it met the relocation requirements for two properties.