• on Feb 24th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 5 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] H [/dropcap]ow has the digital age changed your life? Do you still shop in a store or buy online? Get the newspaper delivered or have an online subscription? Read hard copy books or use an e-reader? If you chose the digital options, you are not alone. You may be a digital native, one of those who are most comfortable working in a digital environment. The Internet and the digital economy are fundamentally changing communications, transportation, and commerce. This “digital revolution,” in combination with the great recession of 2008 to 2009 has affected postal operators all over the world causing a steep decline in the volumes of personal, business, and advertising mail. This shift from the physical will only accelerate as digital natives become more prominent in the workforce. In a white paper released today, the Office of Inspector General analyzed the changing digital landscape as the first in a series of papers on the Postal Service role in the digital age; here is a sample of the key trends: 1.There is a progressive shift from the physical to the digital by business, government, and consumers. 2.Control has shifted from the sender to the receiver. 3.The Internet has evolved from mass broadcast media to personalized conversations. 4.Explosive growth of mobile devices increases consumption of content “on the go”. 5.E-commerce is growing rapidly but has not reached its full potential. 6.Mobile commerce is positioned to grow significantly in the U.S. market. 7.Digital technologies have facilitated global commerce. Though there has been a rapid shift of communications and commerce from the physical world to the digital, there are shortcomings and fundamental gaps that prevent all U.S. consumers from migrating into the digital world. They include: •The Internet and all of its functionality is not available to all citizens to reap its economic benefits. There is a lengthening tail of digital refugees, which will only increase as the digital revolution progresses; •There is a potential threat to the principle of “network neutrality,” nondiscrimination in access to communications networks; •There is still a lack of an adequate level of privacy, confidentiality, dependability, and security in digital communications and transactions as desired by citizens, with the potential of involuntary profiling of consumers; •The digital infrastructure has limitations in connectivity and bandwidth, provided by companies that could go out of business at any time; •There are inadequate personal information management tools to effectively deal with the increasing volume of electronic communications and applications; •There is still insufficient availability of affordable digital currency and secure and convenient financial tools to transact online; and •There are limits of choice, even withdrawal of the physical option as companies push consumers into digital-only communications. Given the Postal Service’s role as a trusted intermediary in the physical world, what role do you believe it should take in digital world, if any? Give your comments below. To learn more, click here to read the paper. [retweet] This topic is hosted by the [tooltip text="The Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC) conducts research on economic, business, and policy issues related to the Postal Service. RARC's staff includes experts in economics, operations research, and data analysis."] OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC). [/tooltip]
  • on Feb 22nd, 2011 in Labor | 35 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] A [/dropcap]sk postal employees about the Postal Service’s Pay-for-Performance (PFP) program and you’ll hear a wide range of opinions as to why they think the program is not working. Many believe the program is unfair and can be subject to manipulation, The IBM Center for The Business of Government, Dr. Carl DeMaio, president of the Performance Institute, Dr. David Norton, president of the Palladium Group and co-founder of the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, and organizational performance guru Jay Schuster cited the Postal Service’s PFP program as a model because it links individual contributions to organizational success. According to Postal Service officials, the PFP program’s foundation is a balanced scorecard of objective, independently verifiable measures of service, employee engagement, and financial performance. Performance indicators are measured at national, district, business unit, and individual levels. In its 2010 Comprehensive Statement of Postal Operations and Annual Report, the Postal Service stated the PFP program continued to drive organizational achievement as measured by a 2.2 percent increase in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in 2010 compared to 2009.This marked the ninth year of positive TFP growth since 2000. The current PFP program evolved over a 12-year period and became the only basis for annual salary increases and lump sum awards for executive and administrative employees beginning in 2004. In implementing its PFP program, the Postal Service joined the ranks of many private sector firms where pay for performance is a standard feature for management and executives. In September 2010, many readers commented on our blog about the Postal Service’s PFP program. Comments expressed various opinions and perspectives about the program. Some said the PFP program is “broken” because it’s easy for postal management to manipulate. Others say PFP would be a great thing if the goals were reasonable and within the control of the manager. Many suggested scrapping the program altogether for a variety of reasons. For example, some said established goals are unrealistic and are changed often throughout the year so you end up chasing a moving target; others that the reporting system has no accountability factor and results are falsified; and still others that the ratings are changed or manipulated even when goals are achieved so that you get less of a raise. The OIG plans to initiate a review of the Postal Service’s PFP program. We would like to hear more about your thoughts on the subject. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Human Resources and Security Audit Team.
  • on Feb 14th, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 12 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap]he Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the Postal Service to comply with specific sections of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). Among other financial reporting requirements, SOX mandates internal control compliance – making sure that financial transactions are reasonably and fairly presented in the accounting records - and places the responsibility on postal management. A recent district-wide audit of 13 postal retail units found 80 internal control compliance issues related to stamp accountabilities, disbursements, and financial accounting and reporting. The cause for most of these issues was attributed to a lack of adequate training, the insufficient financial background of some unit managers, why they were placed in the position without receiving the necessary financial training, and an absence of oversight by the managers and supervisors responsible for implementing financial internal controls. Why do these managers lack the proper training and background to adequately supervise financial operations? One possibility is the amount of management turnover at retail units. The management turnover rate was high at some retail sites visited during the audit. For example, one retail unit had three different acting station managers in the last 18 months. Often, new or acting managers and supervisors come from different segments of the Postal Service and are placed in positions which require them to supervise financial operations. Is there a benefit for bringing in someone from a different segment to oversee the operations of a retail unit? How should they be trained? Please give your comments. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – West team.

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