USPS gets clean audit on conference spending

May 1

It doesn’t take a mind reader to know that federal agency spending on conferences will be examined closely, even at a self-funding entity such as the U.S. Postal Service, after the scandals of recent years.

But auditors said in a report released Wednesday that they “did not identify any inappropriate expenditures” in their review of two big fiscal 2013 postal conferences.


(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Postal Service inspector general noted that because USPS does not draw funds from the Treasury, it is not subject to a series of Office of Management and Budget memos and changes in law that were spurred by wasteful spending uncovered in audits of the General Services Administration — where the entertainment at an $800,000 Las Vegas-area conference in 2010 included a mind reader — at the IRS, and at the Veterans Affairs Department.

Instead, USPS has its own policies, and “compliance is important to ensure conference expenditures are reasonable,” auditors said in focusing on two conferences that exceed the $100,000 threshold that one of those memos set for public disclosure of expenses.

The audit said that the Postal Service had a $4.2 million budget for meetings and conferences last year, and it did find some $17,300 of conference travel expenses was misclassified as training expenses. But the report agreed with management that the expenses cannot be recharacterized at this point since the books have been closed on fiscal year 2013.

Postal management agreed with recommendations to separately account for conferences costing more than $100,000 and clarify policies on reporting conference-related travel expenses.

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