Postal Updates

USPS inspector general report cites improvements in 'mail covers' program

Apr 29, 2021, 8 PM
A Sept. 15 report from the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service notes improvements in a sensitive program that allows postal inspectors to monitor mail sent to criminal suspects.

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

Postal inspectors appear to have made some progress managing a program that allows law enforcement agencies to monitor the mail of criminal suspects, according to a report by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s “mail covers” program was the subject of a critical 2014 USPS inspector general report that found postal inspectors were not properly managing the program and were failing do required paperwork on individual cases.

The new report, dated Sept. 15, found that the Postal Inspection Service had made improvements controlling the program. The program allows the Postal Inspection Service to record information from the outside of mail pieces sent to criminal suspects, although U.S. law requires a warrant before any mail piece may be opened.

"Specifically, management completed actions to ensure national security mail covers were handled appropriately, mail cover requests were properly approved and justified, periodic reviews were conducted, and controls were improved to ensure facility personnel process mail covers timely,” the new report said.

According to the report, however, the Postal Inspection Service had not been able to ensure that certain documents produced for requesting law enforcement agencies during mail covers operations were returned to the service on a timely basis as required by postal regulations.

The inspector general said it would continue to monitor the program because of the shortcomings.