Postal Service beefs up financial monitoring

Monday - 1/24/2011, 10:08am EST

Linda Libician-Welch, Director, Field Financial West, Office of Audit for the Office of the Inspector General, Postal Service

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 requires federal agencies to adhere to more stringent financial reporting criteria. The Postal Service put together a group called the Financial Testing Compliance group to help comply with Sarbanes Oxley.

Now, the Postal Service Inspector General has put the group's findings to the test.

Linda Libician-Welch, director of Field Financial West in the Office of Audit for the Office of the Inspector General at the Postal Service, told Federal News Radio that the IG's office found a few problems. But, she added, the group's work has dramatically improved since it began.

The most significant issues occurred in the early reviews where about half of the FTC group reviews differed from the IG's reviews, Libician-Welch said. In later reviews, the differences "declined significantly," she said.

One reason for the differences was the FTC group did not report problems that it considered immaterial to financial reporting, but the IG's office considers are exceptions to be reportable.

"Management needs to know that to make an overall assessment on the financial environment," she said.

The FTC group has been "very responsive" to feedback, Libician-Welch said. Earlier in 2010, the group suspended all reviews and brought in everyone for training to clarify procedures and initiate a "more strenuous" supervisory review, she said.

As the USPS struggles with losses that could reach more than $238 billion by 2020, the reviews ensure that USPS has established and maintains control of its financial reporting.

"Although [the review] does not directly impact the bottom line, the FTC work that's reported to management provides assurance to Postal Service stakeholders that the reports are fairly presented and that the internal controls are in place," Libician-Welch said.