• on Jan 9th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 6 comments

    Traditional addressing systems rely on subjective identifiers like street names and business or residence numbers. These addressing systems have generally offered the U.S. and many foreign postal services an effective means to identify pickup and delivery locations. However, recent technological innovations related to digital mapping have led some to consider the adoption of an addressing system based on geocodes.

    Unlike traditional postal codes, such as a ZIP code, a geocode is not a subjective descriptor, but a series of letters and/or numbers based on the physical location, or latitude and longitude coordinates, of a business, residence, or even point of interest. For example, under a geocode system, location of the USPS OIG headquarters may be identified by a single number such as 35602.1092.4393 which contains information about the latitude (38° 53' 45.996") and longitude (-77° 4' 14.6784“) of the building.

    Developing a geocode addressing system could have many benefits. Notably, it could provide every location in the world an internationally unique and permanent “address”. Such a system has important economic implications. Beyond supplying a physical address to residents and businesses located in countries without addressing systems, a common global standard could greatly facilitate international communications and transactions.

    This is particularly true as e-Commerce continues to grow across borders and the need for an addressing system that transcends national mailing standards and cultural and language barriers becomes more apparent. A geocode system may also complement the traditional street address system by providing more precise location information in cases where the location to which a package is to be delivered does not have a unique address, such as a specific room or cubicle.

    What do you think? Would geocoding improve the current address system?

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Blog Team.

  • on Jan 2nd, 2012 in OIG | 5 comments
    It’s been a year of major changes in the postal world. Looking over the headlines, the staff at the Office of Inspector General has pulled together the list below of the top 10 postal stories for 2011. Take a moment, read them over, and vote for your top story of the year. If you think we missed one, let us know! 10.Another Year, Another Loss – Even with a deferral of the retiree health payment, the Postal Service loses $5.1 billion in 2011, although $3.7 billion is changes to workers’ compensation expenses. 9.To Exigent or Not to Exigent – After federal appeals court remands the exigency case back to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the Postal Service is still undecided on whether it will pursue higher than CPI rates. 8.Pension Funding in the Black – OPM projects a $13.1 billion surplus in the Postal Service’s FERS and CSRS pension accounts for 2011. 7.DVDs by Mail Not Dead Yet – Netflix is forced to backpedal after customers rail against the company’s plan to unbundle DVDs by mail. 6.GAO Just Says No Overpayment – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) weighs in on the debate about the Postal Service’s $75 billion CSRS overpayment, stating there was no evidence of accounting errors and returning the funds is ultimately a policy choice that impacts the federal budget. 5.Digital Media to the Rescue – Ironically, blogs such as Dead Tree Edition, Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, and Save the Post Office are driving the debate in the area of hard copy postal issues. 4.Is Overnight Over? – The Postal Service proposes changing delivery service standards, including eliminating overnight delivery for First-Class Mail, to capture savings from network consolidation. 3.Plethora of Bills, Paucity of Law – An unprecedented interest in postal reform yields an abundance of legislative proposals, yet still no new law. 2.Cut, Cut, Cut – The Postal Service announces a provocative plan to break labor contracts, withdraw from federal health and retirement plans, and seek workforce reductions of 220,000 through layoffs and attrition. 1.Something’s Got to Give Round 1 – The Postal Service’s aggressive plans to close about 250 processing plants and more than 3,600 post offices hits strong opposition leading to a temporary moratorium on closings until May 15, 2012. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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