• on Apr 30th, 2012 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 9 comments
    As the Postal Service struggles to survive, it needs to take a good look at the financial health of its products. However, ascertaining the financial health of a product line requires an accurate estimate of the cost of providing that product. The Postal Service is moving into an increasingly data-driven future; thus, the timeliness and accuracy of cost measurement will continue to grow in importance. The Postal Service has not changed its cost system fundamentally in many years, though it updates significant inputs annually. There have been calls for an examination of the accuracy and relevance of the system and implementation of specific changes. In order to inform the dialogue and debate, the OIG published A Primer on Postal Costing Issues, a discussion of postal costing, including the most salient of the concerns the Postal Service and its customers have raised. As discussed in the paper, the main issues that have been raised are whether the Postal Service: 1. Should use fully-distributed costing to evaluate the financial performance of products? 2. Should adapt the system to reflect the excess capacity currently present in the postal network? If so, how? 3. Should measure bottom-up costs? 4. Should use the new postal data sources in the costing system to improve accuracy and reduce costs? 5. Can improve the timeliness of cost studies and, if so, how? As the postal market changes, the Postal Service will need new and/or different cost data to support its decisions, including pricing decisions. Many of the suggested changes and improvements would require a significant expenditure of resources at a time when the Postal Service is under substantial fiscal stress. But the Postal Service needs the right cost data to make the right decisions.. What do you think – should the Postal Service be spending money to improve its cost systems? If so, what do you think are the most important changes needed? This blog is sponsored by RARC.
  • on Apr 23rd, 2012 in Post Offices & Retail Network, Pricing & Rates | 9 comments
    Generally, most consumers know the rates for mailing a 1-ounce First-Class® letter. However, many don’t know the prices of other postal service offerings, such as certification, insurance, or return receipt. In some instances, some of these services must be bundled with the mailing type. Posting the rates for the more commonly used services in a convenient spot in the Post Offices would let customers know approximately how much services cost, allowing them to make informed decisions. For example, displaying rates for the first several ounce increments of First-Class mail, as well as the most commonly used rates for Express Mail and Priority Mail along with the rates for certification, insurance, and return receipt, would help mailers calculate the total purchase price. Easy access to this information would allow mailers to effortlessly make price comparisons with other providers and clearly reveal the true value the Postal Service provides to consumers. What do you think? How can the Postal Service present prices in the most effective way?

    This blog is hosted by the Financial Reporting directorate.

  • on Apr 16th, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 3 comments
    Starting in April, the private company TNT Post UK plans to test street delivery in the West End of London. Currently, TNT collects and sorts mail and then hands it over to Royal Mail, the traditional government-run postal provider in the United Kingdom, for final street delivery. Now, however, TNT Post UK wants to provide street delivery as well. TNT is seeking assistance from the UK government to provide a level playing field that will allow it to compete effectively with Royal Mail’s delivery service. Royal Mail says that rival delivery networks hurt mail customers by undermining the efficiencies of a single delivery network, stating "If a rival delivery service cherry picks profitable, easy-to-deliver mail, it will weaken and ultimately undermine the Universal Service that only Royal Mail currently has the ability and commitment to deliver..." Britain’s postal regulator, Ofcom, plans to monitor the situation. Overall, this move represents another step toward a liberalized postal market in the UK, similar to those in other European Union countries. What are the benefits and risks of promoting this type of competition in the delivery market? What could happen if a private company sets up a rival street delivery network that only served profitable areas, such as West End of London? Could the traditional provider, Royal Mail, compete in the more profitable areas if it also is forced to provide delivery services to less profitable addresses in rural areas?

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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