WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The debt-ridden U.S. Postal Service wasted $1.2 million in printing costs after making a bad bet that stamps representing The Simpsons would be twice as popular as Elvis Presley.
As the television show’s Homer would say, “D’oh!”
In a move that wasted $1.2 million in printing costs, the service produced 1 billion of “The Simpsons” stamps and sold 318 million. The Postal Service inspector general in a report singled out the overproduction of stamps marking the 20th anniversary of the cartoon’s run on Fox.
“If the Postal Service can’t address a simple matter such as determining how many commemorative stamps to produce, it shows they can’t address the larger problems,” Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told Bloomberg. “Unfortunately, even a small item can create larger problems.”
The service could possibly save $2 million annually by ending overproduction of stamps that, like the Simpsons run, end up being destroyed when they don’t sell, the inspector general said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service said it posted a loss of $5.2 billion in its third quarter and could lose $15 billion in the year ending Sept. 30. It has asked for Congress’s help in cutting costs by eliminating a requirement to pre-pay for future retirees’ health care and letting it stop Saturday mail delivery. According to The New York Times, first-class mail volume continued to decline in the quarter ending June 30, falling 3.5 percent compared with a year earlier, as people and businesses shift to email and electronic transactions.
Bloomberg News reports The Simpson stamps were sold in 2009 and 2010 and came in five designs featuring Homer, his wife, Marge, and children Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie.
Working from recommendations by a citizens’ advisory board, the Postal Service produces about 20 commemorative stamp designs each year featuring historic events, geographic spots and pop- culture icons such as Homer Simpson, Bloomberg reported.
“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, according to Bloomberg. “They need to get a better process for projecting the need, and they are implementing that type of process.”
While the Simpsons stamp was the most overproduced one of 2009 and 2010, the service also produced more stamps that it sold in those years featuring the lunar new year, civil rights movement figures, Zion National Park, Supreme Court justices, historic U.S. flags, film director Oscar Micheaux and a Christmas stamp showing an angel with a lute.
The best-selling commemorative issued by the Postal Service was a 29-cent stamp issued in 1993 on what would have been Presley’s 58th birthday. A Marilyn Monroe stamp issued in 1995 for 32 cents was another top seller.