Archive for the ‘U.S. Postal Service’ Category

USPS OIG — Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow!

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow! (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The package delivery market has been growing considerably. Between 2008 and 2013, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a more than 20 percent increase in package volume. The main reason is the growing popularity of e-commerce, particularly online shopping. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion to ship packages domestically in 2013. E-commerce sales in the U.S. alone this year will top $430 billion; global e-commerce will exceed $1.5 trillion.

There is no doubt that packages are growing in importance to the Postal Service’s future. To meet emerging customer demands, the Postal Service needs to position itself for long-term success and broaden its role across the package delivery value chain. The Postal Service has already taken some steps towards enhancing its ability to handle an increase in packages. However, it needs a strategy that includes expanding beyond the traditional postal expertise of last-mile delivery to offer one-stop.

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If It Prints, It Ships: 3D Printing and the Postal Service

July 8, 2014 Comments off

If It Prints, It Ships: 3D Printing and the Postal Service (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General


  • 3D printing is in the initial stages of transforming major parts of our economy, such as aerospace and healthcare. It also promises to revolutionize the way consumers get customized goods by making them cheaper and more accessible.
  • Prominent industry forecasts show the 3D printing market exploding over the next several years.
  • 3D printing could lead to an increase in packages delivered by the Postal Service worth $485 million in new annual revenue, based on analysis of commercial package volume data.
  • Emerging 3D printing businesses could use the ubiquitous first- and last-mile postal network to connect with their customers.
  • The Postal Service could partner with 3D printing businesses, perhaps using excess space in postal facilities, to help streamline the fast delivery of 3D printed goods.

USPS OIG — Monitoring of Government Travel Card Transactions: Management Advisory Report

July 1, 2014 Comments off

Monitoring of Government Travel Card Transactions: Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Citibank issues VISA branded SmartPay 2® cards to U.S. Postal Service employees for use on official travel. The Postal Service has travel card coordinators who monitor employee card use to identify transactions that could indicate misuse such as nontravel related purchases or unauthorized cash advances. There were 44,104 government travel cards issued to Postal Service personnel as of January 15, 2014. From April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013, employees made 247,419 purchases totaling about $44.9 million and 8,793 cash advances totaling about $1.6 million.

Our objective was to determine whether Postal Service travel card coordinators were effectively monitoring government travel card transactions. Specifically, we evaluated the internal controls managed by the travel card coordinators, but did not determine the appropriateness of individual travel card transactions.

What The OIG Found
Postal Service travel card coordinators need to more effectively monitor cash advances. We judgmentally selected 1,832 cash advances for review based on noncompliance with Postal Service travel policy. We found travel coordinators did not identify for further review 1,260 transactions, totaling $215,466, that potentially did not comply with travel policy.

In addition, travel card coordinators for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Postal Service Headquarters need to better monitor purchases. We judgmentally selected 486 purchase transactions based on potential noncompliance with travel policy and the amount of the transaction. We found 282 purchases totaling $55,516 that were not identified by coordinators for follow up with employees’ managers. We also determined the Postal Service did not process cardholder personnel changes in a timely manner to allow coordinators to monitor travel card transactions.

Although individual employee cardholders are responsible for repayment of all cash advances and payment for all items purchased with their travel cards, effective monitoring of travel card transactions reduces the risk of credit card delinquencies or negative publicity when employees misuse their travel cards.

USPS OIG — Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The U.S. Postal Service uses more than 190,000 vehicles to collect and deliver mail, including about 142,000 long-life vehicles that are nearing or exceeding their expected service life. As the fleet ages, maintenance costs will increase and older models will be retired as they become too costly to maintain or repair.

Our objectives were to assess the Postal Service’s acquisition strategy for the next generation of collection and delivery vehicles and identify features recommended for these vehicles.

The Postal Service has an acquisition strategy, but has not fully developed or implemented it. The short-term plan developed in 2011 included acquiring 25,000 vehicles costing about $500 million to meet operational needs and replace some of the aging fleet. The long-term plan included purchasing the next generation of delivery vehicles beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2017. However, this plan lacked details, such as vehicle requirements, specifications, and green technology features. Despite 3 years of effort, neither plan has been approved or fully funded. In January 2014, the Postal Service received approval to purchase 3,509 vehicles to meet a contractual rural carrier vehicle commitment as a stop gap measure.

These conditions occurred due to financial constraints. Our analysis of the delivery vehicle inventory and motorized routes showed the Postal Service could sustain delivery operations nationwide until FY 2017. On the other hand, it could experience vehicle shortfalls if there are unexpected decreases in vehicle inventory or increases in motorized routes. In addition, aging vehicles are typically repaired when they break down, even though it would sometimes be more cost effective to replace them.

In designing new delivery vehicles, management must consider federal fleet regulations, emerging vehicle technologies, and fleet best practices. For example, growth in the package market could help dictate the design and technologies selected for a new vehicle. Moreover, replacing vehicles could take more than 10 years. Thus, the Postal Service should act quickly to implement a plan to meet operational needs, achieve sustainability goals, and reduce maintenance costs.

We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, continue to pursue short-term annual vehicle acquisitions and formalize a long-term plan to replace the fleet that includes requirements and specifications for the next generation of delivery vehicles.

USPS OIG — Advertising and Consulting Supplier Selection Process

June 23, 2014 Comments off

Advertising and Consulting Supplier Selection Process (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

In a January 2013 report, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the U.S. Postal Service did not adequately monitor its two largest advertising contracts. As a result, the Postal Service planned to restructure the contracts to take advantage of competition in the advertising marketplace. In fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service awarded about $252 million for advertising and related consulting services.

Supplier selection involves a team evaluating suppliers’ proposals. Team members individually evaluate proposals and then meet to reach a consensus. The team must document the rationale for its consensus decisions. Competing suppliers who disagree with the supplier selection can challenge the contract award.

We conducted this audit to follow up on the OIG’s prior report on the Postal Service’s advertising program. Our audit objectives were to determine whether the Postal Service increased competition for advertising contracts and to assess the supplier selection process.

The Postal Service increased competition for advertising contracts by closing its two largest advertising contracts and competitively awarding contracts to four suppliers. Evaluation teams generally complied with the established guidelines for the supplier selection process by documenting narratives to support their consensus decisions, except for two consulting contract purchases. Specifically, the two evaluations did not include narratives to explain the basis of the competing supplier ratings.

If supplier evaluations are not fully documented and maintained, the Postal Service cannot ensure the transparency and integrity of the supplier selection process and its contract awards may be vulnerable to challenges. As a result, we identified two contract purchases valued at $3.5 million for which evaluations did not contain narratives to support the consensus decisions. This does not necessarily indicate that the Postal Service incurred losses.

We are not making any recommendations because management took corrective actions to address the need for consensus documentation by releasing an official memorandum and training contracting officials on the technical evaluation policy requirement.

USPS OIG — Postal Inspection Service Mail Covers Program

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Postal Inspection Service Mail Covers Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

In fiscal year 2013, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service processed about 49,000 mail covers. A mail cover is an investigative tool used to record data appearing on the outside of a mailpiece. Law enforcement agencies use this information to protect national security; locate fugitives; obtain evidence; or help identify property, proceeds, or assets forfeitable under criminal law.

A mail cover is justified when it will further an investigation or provide evidence of a crime. The U.S. Postal Service is responsible for recording and forwarding the data to the Postal Inspection Service for further processing. Postal Service and law enforcement officials must ensure compliance with privacy policies to protect the privacy of customers, employees, and other individuals’ information.

Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service are effectively and efficiently handling mail covers according to Postal Service and federal requirements.

Opportunities exist to improve controls over the mail covers program. For example, responsible personnel did not always handle and process mail cover requests in a timely manner and documents relating to the covers were not always returned to the program files as required. Of the 196 external mail cover requests we reviewed, 21 percent were approved without written authorization and 13 percent were not adequately justified or reasonable grounds were not transcribed accurately. Also, 15 percent of the inspectors who conducted mail covers did not have the required nondisclosure form on file

Further, the Postal Inspection Service provided evidence for only one periodic review of the mail covers program over the past 3 fiscal years and did not have procedures to ensure annual reviews were performed as required. Finally, the mail cover computer application did not always provide accurate and reliable information because system controls did not ensure completeness, accuracy, and consistency of data. For example, we found 928 mail covers in active status after the cover periods ended.

Insufficient controls could hinder the Postal Inspection Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail, and harm the Postal Service’s brand.

We recommended management improve controls to ensure responsible personnel process mail covers in a timely manner and conduct periodic reviews of the mail covers program. Also, we recommended management implement system controls to ensure data integrity in the Postal Inspection Service mail cover application.

USPS OIG — Delivery Operations – Additional Carrier Services

June 10, 2014 Comments off

Delivery Operations – Additional Carrier Services (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The U.S. Postal Service’s mail volume declined from about 171 to 160 billion mailpieces from fiscal years (FY) 2010 to 2012. The Postal Service had net losses of $5 billion in FY 2011 and $15.9 billion in FY 2012. It prepared a Five-Year Business Plan to address budget concerns and increase profits. Most of the proposed efforts to reduce budget deficits are cost-cutting initiatives, such as eliminating Saturday delivery, recalculating retirement prefunding obligations, and downsizing the workforce.

But revenue-generating opportunities could also improve the Postal Service’s finances. Taking advantage of the delivery “last mile” by adding carrier services not directly related to mail delivery could increase revenue and enhance the Postal Service brand.

Our objective was to assess opportunities for the Postal Service to add carrier services to delivery operations.

The Postal Service could increase the value of delivery operations, bolster revenue, and address community needs by offering additional carrier services. We identified a variety of services that could generate revenue, such as monitoring services for the elderly, collecting air quality data, verifying identification, delivering prescriptions on the same day, updating maps, and reporting on traffic conditions. Some of these ideas may not be immediately feasible due to legal restrictions, but management should consider them.

Additionally, the Postal Service could generate revenue immediately by selling advertising space on its delivery vehicles. A market analysis the Postal Service conducted during our review estimated revenue potential of about $15 million in FY 2014 and $30 million in FY 2015 from this initiative.

We recommended the executive vice president, chief marketing and sales officer, in coordination with the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, develop a strategy to identify, evaluate, and offer the most promising additional carrier services, including ways to overcome identified barriers. We also recommended they jointly conduct a pilot test on delivery vehicle advertising and gather sufficient data to support a decision on this concept.

USPS OIG — Passport Personally Identifiable Information: Management Advisory Report

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Passport Personally Identifiable Information: Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

This report responds to a request from U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California regarding a constituent’s concern that the U.S. Postal Service compromised her daughter’s personally identifiable information (PII) while processing her passport application. PII is information used to determine or trace an individual’s identity.

The Postal Service has more than 5,300 passport acceptance facilities, which accepted about 5.3 million applications and collected passport revenue of more than $133.2 million in fiscal year 2013. The Postal Service, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State (DOS), established policies and procedures to ensure the security of PII to avoid theft, misuse, or loss. In addition, the DOS inspects Postal Service passport facilities every 2 years as part of its oversight program.

Our objective was to evaluate the Postal Service’s procedures for protecting PII on passport applications.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND: The Postal Service must strengthen its procedures for securing and protecting PII on passport applications. Although we found no indication the PII in question was compromised, Postal Service personnel did not always safeguard passport PII and provide customers with adequate privacy when processing passport applications. We also identified control weaknesses relating to transmittal forms and inconsistent passport procedures at the district level to address deficiencies the DOS identified. These issues occurred due to inadequate training and passport application procedures and conflicting criteria.

The DOS identified similar issues regarding the safeguarding of PII and passport application processing procedures in its reviews of Postal Service passport acceptance facilities. We identified about $64 million in annual revenue at risk if the Postal Service does not comply with established procedures.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED: We recommended management implement controls to ensure that Postal Service personnel complete and document training; provide customers with adequate privacy during the passport application process; ensure transmittal forms are accurate, appropriately retained, and monitored; and ensure consistency of passport acceptance, compliance, and procedures to address deficiencies the DOS identified.

International Postal Big Data: Discussion Forum Recap

May 20, 2014 Comments off

International Postal Big Data: Discussion Forum Recap (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Big data offers enormous opportunities for postal operators everywhere – including the U.S. Postal Service – to become more innovative, efficient, and responsive. This and other intriguing insights emerged from a discussion forum jointly hosted by the Universal Postal Union and the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). A newly released OIG briefing paper details not only all the insights, but also the step-by-step approach required for postal operators to build a successful big data strategy.

USPS OIG — Postal Service Retirement Benefits Benchmarking

May 7, 2014 Comments off

Postal Service Retirement Benefits Benchmarking (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Overall, pensions, which were originally intended to attract and retain talented employees, are a major cost to organizations. As workers become more mobile and transient throughout their careers, many organizations are adjusting their retirement benefits programs to cater to an evolving workforce and putting the employee in control of his or her financial future. These organizations are also freeing themselves of long – term retirement costs by shifting the responsibility to the employee.

Although the Postal Service’s retirement benefits are comparable in many ways to those offered in the private sector, some differences exist. All eight benchmarked organizations historically had defined benefit pension plans. However, seven benchmarked organ izations transitioned, at least partially, to a defined contribution retirement benefits plan. The one remaining organization maintained a traditional defined benefit pension plan but increased the retirement age requirement, decreased employee benefits, and offered a delayed compensation plan.

Benefits constitute a larger share of compensation for federal workers, accounting for 39 percent of total compensation, compared with 30 percent in the private sector. As such, benefits help attract and maintain s taff in the federal workforce. The Postal Service’s retirement expense was about 12 percent of total annual compensation and benefits expenses in FYs 201 1 through 2013 . In the private sector, retirement and savings benefits average 3.7 percent of total com pensation and benefits costs. For state and local governments, retirement and savings benefits average 9.4 percent.

We identified common practices involving cost – savings, governance and administration, union negotiation and relations, and employee satisf action strategies. The Postal Service should consider these practices, used by the organizations we examined, if it changes its retirement benefits.

USPS OIG — Leave Benefits and Paid Holidays Benchmarking

May 5, 2014 Comments off

Leave Benefits and Paid Holidays Benchmarking (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Although the Postal Service’s leave benefits and paid holidays are comparable in many ways to those offered in the private sector, some differences exist. Most notably, Postal Service employees can carry over 55 or more days of annual leave each leave year, and employees are not limited by the amount of sick leave they can carry over. However, the benchmarked companies provided much more restrictive leave carryover. Limiting the leave employees can carry over decreases the money the company must pay out upon employee separation and reduces the money it must set aside to cover employee payments for these leave balances. If the Postal Service did significantly reduce sick leave carryover, though, the availability of leave for short-term situations such as maternity would be affected. Therefore, the need for a short-term disability program would be a critical consideration in any plan to change the leave carryover benefit.

While modifications to the Postal Service’s current leave benefits program may reduce costs and the time employees are away from work, challenges exist in pursuing any changes. Challenges include legal requirements, union negotiations, information technology upgrades to support changes, and assessments of how benefit changes impact employees. Understanding and addressing these challenges would be critical to successfully implement any modifications to the Postal Service’s current leave benefits program. Most notably, the Postal Service must maintain categories for annual and sick leave; therefore, the need for legislative changes would be a critical consideration in any plan to eliminate the leave categories from Postal Service benefits. Also, the Postal Service cannot unilaterally change benefits for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. Because benefits are only one of many components negotiated with the unions, the Postal Service may be forced to pursue changes to employee leave benefits at the cost of other negotiated components. Also, for certain employees not covered by collective bargaining agreements, the Postal Service has an obligation to consult with management associations about programs affecting those employees as well. This can impact its negotiation and consultation strategies.

USPS OIG — Fiscal Year 2013 Conference Costs

May 1, 2014 Comments off

Fiscal Year 2013 Conference Costs (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Recent inspector general reports highlighted excessive conference spending by federal agencies, including the General Services Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs. As a result, new laws were passed and the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance to create transparency in conference spending in the federal government. In response, federal agencies established programs to identify, track, reduce, and report conference spending. The U.S. Postal Service is not required to comply with these laws, but compliance is important to ensure conference expenditures are reasonable.

Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service properly monitored and accounted for conference costs in fiscal year (FY) 2013.

The Postal Service should improve its monitoring of and accounting for conference costs. Specifically, the Postal Service was unable to immediately identify the number of FY 2013 conferences and their associated costs because management did not have a process to accurately identify conference costs.

The Postal Service reported $4.2 million for FY 2013 in the expense account “Meetings and Conferences.” However, the account does not identify which expenditures are associated with conferences rather than meetings. Therefore, the controller polled the Postal Service functional areas and identified two conferences costing in excess of $100,000. This is the threshold the Office of Management and Budget set for public reporting of conference expenses. The two conferences totaled $243,379, and we did not identify any inappropriate expenditures.

We reviewed detailed Postal Service accounting records, supporting documentation, journal vouchers, travel card transactions, and contracts and did not identify any additional conferences costing more than $100,000 or any inappropriate conference costs in FY 2013. During our review of the various transactions we did identify $17,318 of conference travel improperly classified as training expenses.

We recommended the Postal Service implement procedures to record, identify, and account for all conferences exceeding $100,000, including associated travel. Also, it should clarify policies and procedures regarding proper recording of conference travel expenses and correct $17,318 of misclassified expenses.

USPS OIG — Corporate Succession Planning Program: Management Advisory Report

April 30, 2014 Comments off

Corporate Succession Planning Program: Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

U.S. Postal Service workforce demographics are rapidly changing and a large percentage of its executives could soon retire. Specifically, in fiscal year (FY) 2012, 35 percent of Postal Service executives were eligible to retire and that number will grow to 49 percent within 3 years. To ensure continuity of expertise in executive positions, the Postal Service must identify and develop talented individuals to fill future vacancies. It uses its Corporate Succession Planning (CSP) program to identify and develop top performing employees for new or expanded executive roles.

About 30 percent of potential successors are eligible to retire now, and 73 percent will be eligible in the next 7 years. In FY 2012, management revised the program from a self-nominated to an executive-nominated program and expanded it to include top performers early in their career progression.

About every 2 years, management nominate new employees to the program and measure the program’s success by the availability of qualified successors when vacancies arise. In FY 2013 with a goal of 95 percent, the Postal Service filled 94 percent of vacant executive positions with candidates from the CSP program. Of the remaining 6 percent, 4 percent were postal employees not in the program and 2 percent were external hires.

Our objective was to assess the CSP program and determine whether Postal Service officials are effectively managing it to identify and develop potential leaders for executive management positions.

The Postal Service has established a CSP program that includes many best practices for successful organizations; however, it can improve the program.

Generally, the Postal Service effectively administers the CSP program to identify and develop potential leaders to fill executive management positions. However, we found that 289 days after the approval deadline, management had not approved 621 of the 3,624 developmental activities we reviewed (17 percent). This occurred because some managers did not make approving these activities a priority. These delays hinder potential successors’ ability to develop skills they need for leadership positions.

We recommended management enhance controls to ensure potential successors’ developmental activities are approved in a timely manner.

USPS OIG — Preservation and Disposal of Historic Properties

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Preservation and Disposal of Historic Properties (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The Postal Service did not know how many historic properties it owned or what it cost to preserve them, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act. It did not report the status of historic artwork to the National Museum of American Art, as required by Postal Service Handbook RE-6, Facilities and Environmental Guide, when it sold 10 historic post offices.

The Postal Service did not collaborate with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve its compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and did not submit its 2011 status report to the council. The council could help the Postal Service establish covenants to protect historic features and help secure covenant holders to monitor compliance with those covenants. Also, the council could help review public requests to participate in the preservation process. The Postal Service could also use the U.S. General Services Administration — which employs experienced real estate and historical preservation professionals — to assist in the preservation process.

Like, Share, Tweet: Social Media and the Postal Service

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Like, Share, Tweet: Social Media and the Postal Service
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

No doubt about it, social media has revolutionized the world of communication and commerce, radically changing the way people decide what, where, and when to buy. Accordingly, most businesses and organizations now view social media as an opportunity to reach and engage large customer audiences in ways impossible before: directly, in-real time, and at lower cost.

Indeed, effectively integrating social media into an omnichannel marketing and communication strategy will likely offer businesses numerous benefits well into the future as Millennials – the generation that has grown up with the Internet and smart devices – wield more and more economic influence.

The U.S. Postal Service has a presence on 18 social media sites, including the two most popular, Twitter and Facebook. Its social media strategy, however, is currently limited. This new white paper, based on research by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG), concludes that a stronger, more robust social media strategy could help the Postal Service remain competitive in the digital age by better responding to changing communication needs, improving the customer experience, creating value through social commerce, and cutting costs.

Suggestions for the Postal Service include among others: allocating additional resources for social media; increasing social media visibility; improving customer care via social media; turning social media into a valuable data source; and creating new products. Although not a “cure all,” social media offers significant benefits, and many opportunities exist for the Postal Service to expand in this area, particularly regarding new products and services.

USPS OIG — Enhancing the Value of Mail Follow Up: Discussion Forum Recap

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Enhancing the Value of Mail Follow Up: Discussion Forum Recap
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Hard copy communications, and mail specifically, are not not the relic some claim them to be. Mail can still create a powerful connection with people of all ages. This is especially true when it is well designed and digitally interactive. Although senders pay for mail to be sent, catching recipients’ eyes determines the value of the communication. Without consumer interest in mailpieces like direct mail, catalogs, or bill reminders, the mail value chain breaks down.

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) hosted a discussion forum with marketing, communications, and mail industry experts to discuss ways mail could be made more valuable to the recipient. The forum consisted of three parts. First, the OIG discussed the findings from its whitepaper that spurred the forum, Enhancing Mail for Digital Natives. Then, research highlighting the utility of mail and emotional connection to hard copy communications was illustrated through a number of European studies. Finally, there was a panel discussion among industry leaders about how mail can be made more effective in today’s omnichannel marketing campaigns.

The OIG’s past work shows that Digital Natives, aged 16-25, appreciate mail when it is personalized and has a useful connection to the digital realm. Digital Natives are gaining market power, and will soon outnumber baby boomers. As their influence grows, marketers’ ability to meet their expectations will become increasingly important.

The European research presented showed that hard-copy advertising creates a stronger emotional response than digital advertising. Another European study showed that the total cost of sending hard copy bill reminders through the mail was less than those sent via e-mail.

The panel discussed mail’s role in omnichannel campaign strategies, how personalizing can affect the success of a campaign, and demonstrated new technology like near field communication and augmented reality, which create a seamless integration between physical mail and a digital experience. There is strong interest among printers, marketers, and advertisers to incorporate this technology into traditional direct mail. Companies should take advantage of dropping prices of physical-digital technology and personalizing capabilities to create mailpieces that recipients truly value.

USPS OIG — Readiness for Package Growth – Customer Service Operations: Management Advisory Report

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Readiness for Package Growth – Customer Service Operations: Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Strong customer demand for goods purchased over the Internet has driven growth in the package market, despite an otherwise declining mail market. This growing segment provides the U.S. Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue. From fiscal year (FY) 2010 to FY 2012, Postal Service package revenue increased by $1.4 billion, or 14 percent, and volume increased by 445 million pieces, or 14 percent. Package volume also increased by 13.7 percent in the first 3 quarters of FY 2013, compared with the same period last year.

The Postal Service’s retail component, Customer Service Operations, processes about 34 percent of its annual package volume during the holiday mailing season (November and December). About 75,000 Customer Service Operations’ employees work at post offices and destination delivery units. Employees accept packages at over 31,000 post offices for dispatch to mail processing facilities and receive them at over 24,000 destination delivery units to sort for final delivery.

This report is one in a series of U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General products that addresses the Postal Service’s readiness for growth in the package business. Our objective was to evaluate operational readiness for package growth in Customer Service Operations.

Customer Service Operations has successfully managed periods of package growth, employee workhours, and scan rates at delivery units. However, opportunities exist to enhance readiness by improving acceptance scan rates, decreasing customer wait time in line during the holiday mailing season, enabling the Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue-protection function, and reducing the number of non-barcoded packages to provide end-to-end tracking for customers. Overcoming these challenges could improve the Postal Service’s competitiveness in the package business.

We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, reinforce that Customer Service Operations’ employees perform acceptance scans to support the 100 percent product visibility strategy. We also recommended the vice presidents, Engineering Systems and Product Information, enable the Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue protection function and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce non-barcoded packages. Finally, we recommended the vice president, Mail Entry and Payment Technology, define a solution for notification and collection of shortpaid postage for packages.

USPS OIG — Information Storage Security: Audit Report

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Information Storage Security: Audit Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The Data Management Services group did not manage the storage environment in accordance with Postal Service security requirements because its managers did not provide adequate oversight of the storage teams. They did not, for example, conduct periodic employee access reviews. The absence of proper security practices and training increases the likelihood of an adverse impact on Postal Service operations, such as an outage of a customerdependent system.

In addition, the Corporate Information Security Office did not provide guidance for storage environments as it has for operating systems, databases, and telecommunication security. Establishing minimum security expectations for storage environments can reduce the likelihood of critical system and application outages throughout Postal Service operations.

USPS OIG — Controls over Nonprofit Mailing Authorization Management — Management Advisory Report

March 28, 2014 Comments off

Controls over Nonprofit Mailing Authorization Management — Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The Postal Service consistently applied its policies and procedures when approving and denying nonprofit mailer applications in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Pricing and Classification Service Center staff reviewed applications and supporting documents to ensure each applicant provided sufficient evidence that it met one of the categories to qualify it for Nonprofit rate eligibility.

We reviewed 170 approved and 198 denied nonprofit mail applications from FYs 2010 through 2013 and found applications were approved when they met all of the Postal Service criteria, such as documenting proof of nonprofit status. Applications were denied when they failed to meet one or more of the criteria, such as the requirement to respond to requests for additional information. The Pricing and Classification Service Center used the same evaluation process to approve and deny applications.

Postal Service Knowledge Management Process: Audit Report

March 20, 2014 Comments off

Postal Service Knowledge Management Process: Audit Report
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

As a result of downsizing in response to declining mail volume and the retirement eligibility of about 31 percent of its workforce (152,000 employees), the U.S. Postal Service is at risk of losing the extensive knowledge required to manage its vast operations. The Postal Service had annual revenue of about $67.3 billion, delivered over 158 billion mailpieces, and managed over 31,700 retail locations in fiscal year (FY) 2013. It also operates one of the largest information technology infrastructures in the world, with an inventory of 795 computer applications. It spent at least $59 million on 49 contracts for studies or consulting services during FYs 2011 through 2013.

Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s knowledge management practices, systems, roles, and responsibilities. Accordingly, we compared Postal Service knowledge management processes with eight organizations to identify best practices the Postal Service might adopt to optimize its resources and efforts.

The Postal Service does not have a comprehensive knowledge management policy or process or a chief knowledge officer to ensure that knowledge sharing is systematic and collaborative. Although not well-defined, there are knowledge management elements within several Postal Service systems to capture some tacit and explicit knowledge. In addition, we could not find any of the 49 studies or consultant reports in the Postal Service Headquarters library where they could be shared among all postal departments, as required by policy.

A comprehensive Postal Service knowledge management process would enable management to leverage information from throughout the organization for strategic decision- making and new initiatives. In the near term, knowledge management activities would also mitigate the possible loss of extensive tacit knowledge due to anticipated Postal Service downsizing and the retirement eligibility of about 31 percent of its workforce.

We recommended the vice president, Employee Resource Management, develop a comprehensive Postal Service knowledge management strategy. We also recommended the Postal Service join the Federal Knowledge Management Working Group, which has experts to assist, inform, and support development and implementation of a comprehensive knowledge management strategy.


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