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USPS OIG — The “First and Last Mile” Strategy: A Critical Assessment

January 23, 2015 Comments off

The “First and Last Mile” Strategy: A Critical Assessment (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General
From Summary:

As the Postal Service continues to address its difficult financial situation, some have argued that overall efficiency would improve if the Postal Service were to focus exclusively on the first and last mile (collection and delivery). While the introduction of workshare discounts has led to private industry taking over a portion of the middle mile – mail processing and transportation – allowing private industry to take over the entire middle mile warrants close examination. We therefore asked Dr. John Panzar, an expert in postal economics, to look at the economic implications of the Postal Service abandoning the middle mile completely and focusing exclusively on the first and last mile for the letter and flat market.

Dr. Panzar finds that the Postal Service’s mail processing plays a vital role in ensuring the efficiency of the postal sector, even in the absence of economies of scale in mail processing. In other words, Dr. Panzar maintains that if the Postal Service abandons all mail processing and transportation of letters and flats, overall efficiency will decrease. Worse, the Postal Service would experience a loss in profits, and mailers would have to pay higher prices. In fact, the only parties benefiting would be the private providers of mail processing, but their benefit would be less than the combined loss to the Postal Service and mailers.

The parcel market, which is different and requires its own focused attention and stylized model, will be addressed in a future white paper.

Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Flexibility at Work: Human Resource Strategies to Help the Postal Service (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Highlights

  • The Postal Service has a strategic need to attract adaptable, committed workers to compete in the future.
  • The OIG conducted primary and secondary research to discover innovative human resources practices in successful organizations.
  • Policies that improve work-life balance can attract committed employees and improve retention. Positive outcomes include a less stressed workforce, better customer service, and increased productivity.
  • The Postal Service is focused on workforce flexibility, using lower paid employees to supplement its career workforce. It should also focus on workplace flexibility policies that improve work-life balance.
  • A strategic partnership between management and the workforce throughout the organization will be needed to move toward a more flexible work culture.
  • Experimentation, feedback from employees, and better workload information and management tools all increase the likelihood that flexibility policies will succeed.

USPS OIG — Parcel Payment Technologies and Payment Strategies

January 12, 2015 Comments off

Parcel Payment Technologies and Payment Strategies (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

A new white paper from the Office of Inspector General proposes the U.S. Postal Service must consider additional payment options that address how individuals and small business conduct transactions. Providing flexible payment options will allow the Postal Service to capitalize on revenue in shipping and package services and be more relevant in the digital age. The findings and recommendations found in this report are in line with the numerous advancements in technology, e-commerce, and mobile technology and there connections with the future of the business world.

The U. S. Postal Service’s Role as Infrastructure

December 18, 2014 Comments off

The U. S. Postal Service’s Role as Infrastructure
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Throughout its history, the U.S. Postal Service has been part of the nation’s vital infrastructure, facilitating economic activity, improving quality of life, and benefiting wider society in a variety of ways. But the Postal Service is also mandated to operate like a business, which can pose challenges to its public service mission. The resulting tension between the two was easier to manage when postal revenues were sufficient to fully cover the agency’s costs and obligations. But today, the Digital Age is cutting into the volume of the product that contributes more than half of the funds to support the network: First-Class Mail. And this strain has led to more tension between the Postal Service as a public service provider and as a business.

Moreover, new technologies and global commerce are changing the nation’s infrastructure needs. The Postal Service would benefit from more clarity about what it should offer in this evolving environment.

Our white paper, The Postal Service’s Role as Infrastructure, presents three broad options the Postal Service and its stakeholders could consider when deciding how to adapt the Postal Service’s role for the future. These options are not mutually exclusive. But they should be evaluated together so all potential uses are recognized and accounted for as part of major changes to the size and scope of the Postal Service’s infrastructure.

USPS OIG — Semiannual Report to Congress: April 1 — September 30, 2014

December 5, 2014 Comments off

Semiannual Report to Congress: April 1 — September 30, 2014 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) – together with the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, Congress, and Postal Service management – plays a key role in maintaining the integrity and accountability of the U.S. Postal Service, its revenue and assets, and its employees through our audit and investigative work.

OIG efforts have resulted in significant savings opportunities and improved efficiencies. The financial impact from our workers’ compensation fraud cases alone more than covers the OIG’s budget. When all of our investigative work and audit and research efforts are taken into account, we are providing strong value to stakeholders as we fulfill our mission of promoting integrity and accountability.

During the 6-month report period ending September 30, 2014, we issued 100 audit reports, management advisories, PARIS risk models and white papers, and the Postal Service accepted 87 percent of our significant recommendations. We completed 2,082 investigations that led to 335 arrests and nearly $573 million in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, $52 million of which went to the Postal Service.

USPS OIG — Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The U.S. Postal Service’s universal service obligation (USO), which establishes what mail services the Postal Service must provide, lacks a clear, comprehensive definition. The current USO is assumed to be a hodgepodge of various legal requirements and regulations that, in most cases, provide only broad guidance. For example, while public access to postal services is an important component of USO, there are no specifics about how many access points such as mail collection boxes or post offices must exist.

Add in the disruptive and transformative effects of digital communications, which have cut into mail volumes, and it’s clear that the Postal Service USO needs addressing: What exact services do policy makers and the American public – senders as well as receivers – now need the Postal Service to provide?

Our white paper, Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation,says that now is the appropriate time to update and clarify the USO. We used lessons learned from existing literature, input from experts, and its own knowledge of the Postal Service to develop six guiding principles, which are intended to help filter the plethora of information and stakeholder input to frame substantive discussion and debate on a new USO.

Read Full Report

New From the GAO

November 13, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Program Evaluation: Some Agencies Reported that Networking, Hiring, and Involving Program Staff Help Build Capacity. GAO-15-25, November 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-25
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666894.pdf

2. Alternatives to Detention: Improved Data Collection and Analyses Needed to Better Assess Program Effectiveness. GAO-15-26, November 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-26
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666912.pdf

3. U.S. Postal Service: Status of Workforce Reductions and Related Planning Efforts. GAO-15-43, November 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-43
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666883.pdf

4. Small Business Health Insurance Exchanges: Low Initial Enrollment Likely due to Multiple, Evolving Factors. GAO-15-58, November 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-58
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666874.pdf

5. Indian Affairs: Bureau of Indian Education Needs to Improve Oversight of School Spending. GAO-15-121, November 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-121
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666891.pdf

6. Free Trade Agreements: U.S. Partners Are Addressing Labor Commitments, but More Monitoring and Enforcement Are Needed. GAO-15-160, November 6.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-160
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666788.pdf

7. Free Trade Agreements: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Should Continue to Improve Its Monitoring of Environmental Commitments. GAO-15-161, November 6.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-161
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666783.pdf

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