Yet another U.S. Postal Service manager has pled guilty to fraud and corruption charges relating to USPS transportation contracts. In March 2012, the former USPS Manager of Postal Vehicle Service Operations for the Bay Valley District in Oakland, CA was indicted in a $4.4 million fraudulent billing scheme. Last year, five Postal Service officials at the Detroit, MI Vehicle Maintenance Facility were charged with similar crimes. One might well wonder how many more such episodes need to be uncovered before the Postal Service issues binding procurement regulations and institutes effective protest procedures. Here’s what happened in the most recent case.

Continue Reading Another Postal Service manager pleads guilty to contract fraud

Personal use of an undeliverable coupon by a mail delivery contractor violated postal regulations but did not justify the default termination of her contract.  The particular post office had allowed others in the office to use such undeliverable items, though that local practice violated postal regulations.  Although the Postal Service Board of Contract of Contract Appeals (PSBCA) decided the case in the contractor’s favor, one judge dissented and believed the termination was justifiable.  See Laura K. McNew, PSBCA No. 6286, April 23, 2012.

Continue Reading Postal contractor’s default termination overturned

Contractors beware: the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) thinks that $1 out of every $20 spent by USPS on its contractors is fraudulent, and OIG is itching to find it. According to a July 18, 2011 OIG blog article, “conservative business estimates project up to 5 percent of contracted dollars are lost to fraud, meaning $1.45 billion of Postal Service funds are potentially at risk.” While these numbers are fanciful, there is no doubt that the OIG is taking this seriously. Read on for more details.
Continue Reading Postal Service OIG steps up contract fraud investigations

The False Claims Act encourages individuals with knowledge of fraud against the Government to file a court action seeking damages for the fraud.  It does this by promising a bounty. The relator receives a percentage of the amount recovered in a false claims case.  But there is a constant tension between encouraging plaintiffs to bring cases alleging fraud and protecting defendants from frivolous cases. The January 11, 2011 decision in United States ex rel. Folliard v. Hewlett-Packard Co. illustrates how the requirement that a plaintiff include all of the details of an alleged fraud in the initial complaint helps strike this balance.

Continue Reading Hewlett-Packard and the need for “particularity” in qui tam cases

Fascinating details about how top Postal Service officials make decisions and interact with each another are contained in a June 21, 2010 report by USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG report examines 11 allegations made against Robert Bernstock, the former President of Mailing and Shipping Services. The allegations ranged from serious (steering sole source contracts to former colleagues) to trivial (using his official position to obtain a restaurant reservation). The OIG terminated its 12-month investigation when Bernstock’s employment contract ended in June 2010 and the Department of Justice declined to bring potential criminal violations against him.
Continue Reading USPS OIG Investigation Provides a Peek Behind the Curtain