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USPS OIG – Postal Regulatory Commission Travel Expenses

November 21, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

Background

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is an independent agency of the executive branch that exercises regulatory oversight over the U.S. Postal Service, and its employees travel domestically and internationally to advance the PRC’s strategic mission. The PRC incurred $190,538 in travel expenses for 62 travelers between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2022. The PRC’s Office of Secretary and Administration is responsible for developing and ensuring compliance with policies and procedures surrounding personnel matters and employee travel. Previous audits of the PRC travel program found travelers consistently claimed expenses outside of policy and made travel decisions without proper approval.

What We Did

Our objective was to evaluate the internal controls over travel expenses within the PRC to determine if they were properly supported and in compliance with travel practices, policies, and procedures. Our audit tested for the existence of issues similar to those identified in previous audits to determine whether the implemented controls were effective. The scope of our audit was October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2022, and included international, domestic, and local travel vouchers. Our scope period covers all travel paid since the most recent audit of PRC travel.

What We Found

We identified opportunities to improve policy and internal controls throughout the travel process. Despite changes employed since the last set of travel audits, issues persisted. Specifically, we found instances of incomplete and missing documentation during pre-travel and post-travel processes for domestic and international travel. This occurred due to inadequate program oversight and inconsistent approval procedures. We also found that the PRC’s policies did not always align with agency needs; it did not have policy for local travel, needed policy clarifications for personal and recovery days, and had overly strict requirements for submitting travel requests in advance of required travel.

Recommendations

We recommended the Secretary, Office of Secretary and Administration (1) implement an electronic review and approval function within the existing digital repository of travel documents; (2) conduct a cost-benefit analysis of either appointing personnel with full travel authority and oversight responsibility or allowing travelers to be responsible for submitting, tracking, and supporting their travel actions and expenses in eTravel; (3) update the travel policy to reflect the needs of the PRC and align with agency priorities; and (4) create a training program about the travel process and require all employees that travel to complete this training and retake as needed when changes to the process occur.

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