• on Oct 25th, 2010 in Strategy & Public Policy | 8 comments
    A recent consumer study released by Epsilon Targeting shows direct mail is still important to us. As a method to advertise goods and services, direct mail plays a major role in many consumer decisions — especially among young adults. The market research firm conducted a survey of adults in more than 4,700 U.S. and Canadian households, looking at their preferences among the traditional and new media channels for obtaining information. The survey confirmed findings from 2008, which noted that consumers are using a larger number of media, with their choices influenced by factor, such as convenience, trust, depth of content, and the “green factor.” The survey indicated younger consumers not only found direct mail to be more trustworthy than other channels, including online, but also found that it was the preferred channel for obtaining information. In the 14 consumer categories covered in the survey, American respondents in the 18-34 year age bracket preferred mail as an information source by a wide margin in almost every category, except travel. Although there’s little doubt e-mail and social networking have found a way into the marketing mix, the findings of this study show that direct mail and other “offline” media still play a role with consumers across every age. Does direct mail still play a role in your shopping choices? Let us know! This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Oct 18th, 2010 in OIG | 20 comments
    Have you ever wanted to contribute to or help develop the issues within an OIG audit? Or have you read an audit report and thought ‘I wish I had the opportunity to share my perspective and additional information with the auditors’? With the addition of the Audit Projects section to our website, now you can provide feedback while the audit is being conducted. The Audit Projects section allows you to review the overview of an audit, contribute information, and send documents during this crucial planning phase. In essence, you become an audit team member for the project! During this planning phase, the audit team learns about the subject, collects a broad range of data, contacts key experts and stakeholders, and develops the specific objectives of the audit. This is the phase when the audit team decides on the breadth and depth of the topic in the report. Input from stakeholders like you helps to ensure the audit report provides useful and relevant data and analyses, and contains relevant and realistic recommendations. To review our current audits in progress, go to our Audit Project Pages and select an audit. There you will find the overview of the audit, along with any current comments. If you would like to know when new audit projects begin, follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook. How do you feel about the OIG allowing the public to comment on audits? Please share your thoughts below and we invite you to visit the Audit Projects section of our website and comment on individual audit projects. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Field Financial-East audit team.
  • on Oct 11th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 7 comments
    PostalOne!® is a web-based system designed to facilitate business mail processing and allows the Postal Service to electronically collaborate with business mail customers. It is also used to streamline the mail acceptance and postage payment process. Mailers can either submit a paper postage statement (a summary of items mailed showing postage) or use one of three electronic formats. •Mail.dat® •Mail.XML •Postal Statement Wizard (PSW). Mailers may qualify for Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) discounts when they submit postage statements electronically using Mail.dat or Mail.XML. The Mail.XML submission method supports near real time validation of mailing data as well as compatibility with current ecommerce technology. Mailers can also enter mailing information, such as type and quantity of items mailed into the PostalOne! system over the Internet using Postal Statement Wizard. Both Mail.dat and Mail.XML submissions have increased in recent years. In June 2010, over half of all postage statements were submitted electronically, and of those, 89% were submitted using Mail.dat. That’s a sharp contrast from the beginning of the fiscal year, when 78% of business mail postage statements were submitted in hardcopy format. While electronic postage statement processing is a promising tool for making the Postal Service more efficient, it still faces issues: Does the cost of mailer software development and upgrade offset IMb discounts? Are rejected electronic postage statement files processed timely? Does it help the Postal Service to collect all its revenue? What do you think of businesses submitting and postal employees accepting business mail postage statements electronically? Is electronic postage statement submission a boon or a bust? More information on this project can be found on our Audit Projects page. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Cost, Revenue & Rates audit team.

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