The United States Postal Service is down in the financial dumps lately, after defaulting for the first time in its history on a $5.5 billion payment it owes the U.S. Treasury. It’s got another payment due for about the same amount next month that it will probably miss as well. That bright idea to produce 1 billion The Simpsons stamps isn’t looking so great right about now, as the USPS reports it only sold 318 million of them.
It isn’t just The Simpsons that are causing the USPS to hemorrhage cash, a new report from the Postal Service inspector general is calling out the entire commemorative stamp operation for being needlessly wasteful.
The USPS stands to lose around $1.2 million in printing costs just on those stamps from 2009 and 2010 featuring Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie to mark the show’s 20th anniversary— and they’re totally useless now as they’re 44-cent stamps. Mailing a letter now costs 45-cents.
In a section of the report entitled “Excessive Commemorative and Special Issue Stamps,” via Bloomberg, the Inspector General lays out how the USPS overproduced 2.1 billion commemorative and special issue stamps during 2009 and 2010, including the example of the wasted Simpsons stamps. Another under-performer includes a Flags of our Nation series, which was overproduced by 380 million stamps, costing the USPS $716,000.
The report notes: “Nearly twice as many Simpsons stamps were printed than the most popular commemorative ever issued.” That would be the a 29-cent stamp issued in 1993 to honor what would’ve been Elvis Presley’s 58th birthday.
It adds that the Postal Service overproduced stamp stock for 37 of the 50 stamps issued during 2009 and 2010 by an average of 34%, and says it “did not identify concerns with underproduction of stamp stock, as officials ordered and distributed additional stamp stock as necessary.”
The Inspector General’s office says it the forever stamp has solved a lot of problems, since it doesn’t have to be thrown away if it isn’t used.
“The forever stamp has gone a long way in preventing overproduction,” said Janet Sorensen, director of marketing and service in the IG’s office and leader of the audit team that produced the report. “They need to get a better process for projecting the need, and they are implementing that type of process.”
D’oh! USPS Stuck With 682 Million Unsold Simpsons Stamps [Bloomberg]
Stamp Manufacturing and Inventory Management Audit Report [Office of Inspector General United States Postal Service]