A critical success factor for any information management initiative, whether it is data governance or information governance is to perform audits. There is no way to know the quality of your data integrity or the level of integrity in your information governance program without audits. A new federal audit on the United States Postal Service shows that even though they have one of the largest IT infrastructures in the world they lack governance which has led to their downfall.

A new report from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General encapsulated the national postal carrier’s data efficiency and utilization practices from 2009 to 2012, through an OIG first-hand audit last year and a review of other audits done in the prior years. The USPS has one of the largest IT infrastructures in the world, according to the OIG, with nearly 800 applications and its subsequent data which is stored in numerous repositories and shared across the U.S. mail provider.

The audit found 148 issues related to inconsistencies in its data warehouse, and unreliable or inaccurate data that traced back to the absence of governance policies or the lack of thorough policy enforcement. For instance, the assignment of data stewards in the initial USPS governance policy from 2003 was never fully followed through on, resulting in spotty or missing governance across departments. Misaligned budget data from the USPS CIO, extracted from its data warehouse, resulted in inaccuracies with spending data related to $14.9 million of its more than $1 billion in expenditures to date this year. In other emerging tech areas, the audit found that the USPS did not develop a framework to use GPS data, or assess a strategy for cloud deployments, which could bring $2.6 million in annual savings.

You can read more from Information Management on this at USPS Delivers Poor Data Governance.