In the United States Postal Service, what is the Office of the Inspector General?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2019
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The Office of the Inspector General in the United States Postal Service is an independent agency which is designed to maintain the integrity and accountability of the United States Postal Service. With 90 regional offices across the country and a staff of over 1,000, the Office of the Inspector General is one of the largest such agencies in the United States, and it is constantly investigating allegations of crimes, performing routine audits, and working to improve the efficiency of the United States Postal Service. By maintaining the integrity of the postal service, the Inspector General hopes to keep consumer confidence high.

This agency was founded in 1996, when it took over some of the duties of the Postal Inspection Service. The Inspector General focuses on the issues of fraud, waste, and misconduct. In the case of the postal service, fraud can take a lot of forms; for example, employees may be indicted for misusing government issued credit cards, or forging Treasury checks. Waste is a constant problem in any large company, made even more complex by the sprawling nature of the postal service. Misconduct takes a number of forms, from stealing mail to failing to observe the proper protocol in promotions.


The Office of the Inspector General does not report to the postal service management. It reports directly to the nine people on the Board of Governors which oversees the United States Postal Service, and to Congress. By remaining independent, the agency ensures that it acts appropriately, and that its data will be accurate and acceptable, without allegations of kickbacks, bribes, or other misconduct which could compromise the integrity of the agency.

In addition to securing the integrity of the mails in the United States, the Inspector General also works to make the post office more efficient. This agency may support the development of new techniques to reduce waste, for example, and it is responsible for keeping revenue high and expenses low. This is accomplished through routine audits, the results of which are reported to congress.

There are a number of jobs available in the Office of the Inspector General, for people who are interested in a career with the agency. These range from positions as Special Agents to secretarial jobs. Many employees have an accounting or law enforcement background, representing the primary mission of the Office of the Inspector General, and like many government agencies, this agency is always on the lookout for high quality employees.


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Post 5

My friend's husband is a postal inspector for the United States postal service. Most of his job involves inspecting the mail for illegal drugs.

I don't know how much danger is involved in this position, but I know that he carries a gun with him when he is on duty. You wouldn't usually think of this when you think of postal employees, but there is more to it than many people realize.

Post 4

@everetra - You’re right - those things do fall into the fraud category, although the operators walk a tightrope around legality by telling you that you’re offering a real service, like you said. I wouldn’t want to be caught splitting those legal hairs if I were ever dragged into court.

The postal service does try to crack down on that stuff, but of course it’s hard to catch everyone.

Anyway, nowadays a lot of those pyramid schemes have been off loaded onto the Internet. In place of letters you get emails, with instructions to deposit money into PayPal, et cetera. Nobody regulates the Internet of course, but most of those emails end up in spam folders anyway.

Post 3

@Azuza - There’s one piece of fraud that I would love to see ended for good. It’s those nasty chain letters masquerading as investment opportunities.

I get those in the mail from time to time. It’s my fault, really, because I used to subscribe to a business opportunity magazine (they were real business opportunities, not scams). I guess my name got put on a list and sold to people peddling shady schemes.

The letters I get always begin by telling me that their “business” is completely legal, as I am providing a service, like asking for mail labels or something very easy like that.

Then I am asked to put my name on a list, move some other people’s names up the list, and so forth, and send out 200 or more letters like the one I’ve received. You get the picture. It’s basically a pyramid scheme.

Post 2

@Azuza - I'm glad too. I think it's also really good that the Office of Inspector General is an independent agency that doesn't answer to the Postal Service.

You might also be glad to know the Postal Service isn't the only government agency that is overseen by an Office of Inspector General. For example, the US Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Department of Justice both have their own Offices of Inspector General.

Post 1

I was just watching an episode of a TV show the other day that showed fraud committed by a postal worker! In the episode, he had a whole room full of mail he had stolen, including Christmas cards and stuff from infomercials. One of the characters even discovered that the postman had neglected to deliver his college acceptance letter from a prestigious university!

I'd like to think that in real life, someone would be caught before it went that far. I'm glad there is an agency whose specific job is to keep the Postal Service running smoothly and honestly.

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