Postal Service finds $75B dollar overpayment

Monday - 6/28/2010, 11:08am EDT

Michael Thompson, Director of Capital Investments, Office of Inspector General, US Postal Service

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

In what could be the best game of Monopoly™ ever, Postmaster General John Potter may have just drawn a card that reads "Inspector General finds error in your favor. Collect $75 billion dollars."

The Inspector General for USPS took a closer look at the Civil Service Retirement System and found massive overpayments dating back decades.

Michael Thompson, Director of Capital Investments for the Postal Service Office of Inspector General, explained for Federal News Radio, "the Postal Service, since 1972, has overfunded by $75 billion its share of civil service retirement and the reason for that is because the methodology that's used is not comparable to the methodologies that's used for all the other federal retirement funds."

Thompson said the Office of Personnel Management, in deciding how much the Postal Service should pay into the CSRS, is currently using a different method developed in 1974. They've said they aren't going to change unless Congress tells them to, according to Thomson.

"The money is sitting in the civil service retirement fund. It's not as though the money is not there. It is there. It's just that the Postal Service has continually paid more than it should have paid."

All it would take, according to Thompson, is for either the OPM to make the change or for Congress to legislate it. That might seem simple enough, but with so much money involved, no one's getting off the dime, literally.

Thompson's taking it in stride though.

Well, I think it's one of those brick walls you have to keep just chipping away at and ultimately you will break it down. When you work for an inspector general, you say what you have to say. You try to look for that neutral ground where the truth is there, and you say it, and you hope that the truth will prevail for that day. We will keep talking about this and certainly looking at it and finding different ways to assist the Postal Service.

Even if the Postal Service were to get the money back, said Thompson, changes would still need to be made.

"They have continued to scale down operations, optimize, right-size and they will need to continue to do that even if they get the $75 billion dollars back because mail volume has dropped significantly."

But it would keep the wolves from the door for a while. The "Postmaster General has already testified that there would be no reason to go to five day delivery for at least 10 years," said Thompson, and there are already calls being made to make no changes until the money, and what should be done with it, is decided.