• on Oct 10th, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 57 comments
    Much emphasis has been placed on reducing the Postal Service’s costs in response to its financial crisis. Yet financial viability could come in the form of a balanced approach that both reduces costs and increases revenue. How would a smart business respond to declines in its major products? Would it raise prices where possible in stagnant areas and invest the proceeds into existing or new growth areas? Would it selectively discount products to grow volume in price sensitive segments? Disruptive innovation, such as that underway in the communications sphere, requires change to ensure the Postal Service has what it needs to move beyond the critical crossroad it faces today. The Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center’s new paper Postal Service Revenue: Structures, Facts, and Future Possibilities (Report Number RARC-WP-12-002) addresses the major components of the Postal Service’s revenue structure in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, assesses existing opportunities permissible under the current framework, and discusses future options and policy considerations in a new era. Click here to read the Postal Service Revenue: Structures, Facts, and Future Possibilities white paper. How would you approach the revenue issue to make sure the Postal Service continues to provide self-funded universal service to the American people? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.
  • on Oct 3rd, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 18 comments

    When you buy your groceries, how do you pay for them? What about when you go to the gas station or neighborhood restaurant? How do you buy items online? Cash may still be king, but in everyday life, it is being eclipsed by newer digital payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and electronic transfers. These payment methods are often more convenient than carrying around lots of cash, but they are not equally available to everyone. People who don't have bank accounts or credit cards cannot access the full-range of digital currency products. One option that is available is prepaid payment cards. Prepaid cards are preloaded with funds and then can be used like a credit or debit card. They are the fastest growing form of digital currency. More and more people are receiving their pay through prepaid cards. Unfortunately, customers sometimes must pay predatory fees to redeem the cards for cash or reload them. Is this an opportunity for the Postal Service? The Postal Service has the trusted brand and a vast retail network to ensure national coverage. It has experience helping the unbanked and the underbanked. It has sold postal money orders for about 150 years. In certain areas, the Postal Service offers wire transfer service. Should the Postal Service look into upgrading its payment offerings for the digital age? A new OIG white paper Digital Currency: Opportunity for the Postal Service examines whether there is a role for the Postal Service in the world of digital payments. The paper finds that the Postal Service is well positioned to expand into new digital currency products such as prepaid cards because of its widespread network, trustworthy reputation, and longstanding experience in providing payment services. The paper also provides some suggestions for an implementation strategy. Click here to read the Digital Currency: Opportunity for the Postal Service white paper. What do you think? Are prepaid cards a good opportunity for the Postal Service? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

  • on Sep 21st, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 3 comments
    In a time when the Postal Service has suffered declines in volume and revenue across many categories, it has turned to the international market. For example, it has seized opportunities, including with China, to increase its overall market share in package and express business. But the Postal Service has to maintain an “international” infrastructure in order to efficiently receive and dispatch this mail flow. International Service Centers (ISCs) in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco distribute and dispatch international mail. International Airmail Records Units are located within the ISCs which are part of the International Network Operation. These units validate mail records before transmitting information to the International Accounting Branch in St. Louis for billing foreign postal administrations. Currently, the records units are located in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and Honolulu. In recent years, workload in Miami and Chicago were redistributed to other locations. Our office previously reported the records units operated in an obsolete, inefficient, and manual work environment resulting in the use of unnecessary work hours. Specifically, we found that these units supported more than 2 million hard copy records. Since then, the Postal Service has improved efficiency by implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies to streamline processes and continues efforts to transition to a paperless environment. What additional opportunities exist to strengthen operations at International Service Centers and International Airmail Records Units to improve efficiencies and protect international revenues? For example, are there additional opportunities for consolidation? Are there additional steps the Postal Service can take to automate its processes and fully transition to a paperless environment? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Financial Reporting Directorate.

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