The U.S. Postal Service lost $3.8 billion last fiscal year and expects to lose $7.8 billion this year. That hasn’t prevented employees from indulging in fancy foods and booze on the USPS’s dime. A recent audit by the USPS inspector general found $800,000 in unjustified and “imprudent” purchases, most of which occurred in just a five month span.
The following are some highlights lowlights:
- “No business justification was provided for $355,451 of food provided at a September 2008 national sales educational conference attended by over 600 employees…We noted that beer and wine were served on one occasion, a bartender charge of $500 was included on one occasion, and one dinner for 650 guests totaled $62,714, which is $96 per guest.”
- “A postmaster installation celebration and reception held in October 2008 included unallowable food purchases totaling over $17,000. The menu included crab cakes, beef wellington, shrimp, and scallops.”
- A two-day meeting in September 2008 that cost $27,567, including a per dinner cost of $93. In addition, employees were provided paid lodging “even though their official duty station was within nine miles of the conference facility.”
- Five employees purchased gift cards from unauthorized vendors totaling $31,791. Two districts purchased almost $15,000 worth of movie tickets. Another district purchased thirty retirement watches at $216 a pop.
- “Three meetings included expenses for flowers, linens, candles, and red carpets totaling $4,579.”
These are not rare lapses by a usually frugal USPS management. The inspector general has issued fourteen audits in the last three years with similar findings.
Of course, private companies spend money on conferences, meetings, and events. But they don’t force people to buy their products or use their services. The USPS has a government-granted monopoly over first-class mail. It’s time to put an end to the government mail monopoly, and this audit is one more reason why.