GAO criticizes USPS ombudsman role

"U.S. Postal Service: Purchasing Changes Seem Promising

A congressional audit of the U.S. Postal Service’s new purchasing regulations found most changes in line with leading commercial business practices. However, auditors recommended that USPS make its newly created ombudsman position more independent and impartial.

The Government Accountability Office, which conducted the review, recommended that the ombudsman report to someone other than the head of USPS’ purchasing organization. It also advised that the ombudsman make recommendations rather than binding decisions.

The new purchasing regulations, which have been in effect only seven months, are consistent with strategic sourcing practices that many businesses now use to pay less for goods and services and buy more efficiently. USPS, too, is trying to become more efficient at buying commercial software by prequalifying software providers, for example.

USPS issued a notice Dec. 14 for companies interested in getting on the agency’s list of prequalified commercial software providers. “Marginal suppliers who are not prequalified for a requirement will be saved the time and expense of preparing proposals that do not have a reasonable chance of award,” the prequalification notice states.

In other recommendations, GAO advised USPS not to overlook small businesses in carrying out its strategic sourcing initiatives. To ensure accountability and fairness, auditors recommended that the agency develop an information system to identify and track how much it spends with each supplier for various goods and services.

USPS spends $11.5 billion a year on goods and services from more than 21,000 suppliers.

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