Postal audit calls for more oversight in mail tracking program to ease privacy concerns

WASHINGTON – An internal Postal Service audit says about 49,000 pieces of mail were monitored during the last fiscal year under a far-reaching federal surveillance program and more oversight is needed to ease privacy concerns.

Under the program, called “mail covers,” information on the outside of a piece of mail is recorded for use in law enforcement investigations. Postal Service spokeswoman Toni DeLancey says it is used only under limited circumstances.”

The audit says there are insufficient controls to make sure law enforcement requests for surveillance are handled properly. In some cases, the audit says responsible personnel did not always handle the requests.

The agency’s office of inspector general says this could create public concerns over privacy of mail, and harm the Postal Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations if not overhauled.