• on Mar 1st, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 28 comments
    According to a representative on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s staff, a Postal Service-run lottery “could offer the potential for substantial profits for the Postal Service and utilize its current retail infrastructure with its 36,000 retail outlets.” Popular lottery formats in many states include drawings and instant lottery tickets. The claim is that running a national lottery could help the U.S. Postal Service close its multibillion-dollar budget gap.  It could also build foot traffic to post offices, increasing retail sales of postal products. A lottery might bring in a lot of revenue, but would it also bring more problems?
    • A lottery, like any form of gambling, is susceptible to fraud, despite the high degree of scrutiny claimed by the organizers.
    • Lines at many lottery depots can be long when jackpots are high—stretching around corners. Adding lottery customers to the lines at post offices could have a negative impact on regular customers who are not lottery players.
    • How would the states react to the Postal Service joining the business of selling lottery tickets? Would the ability to reach out to such a large audience (through 36,000 retail units) take money from state lotteries, a number of which earmark revenues for education and social programs?
    • Who would run the lottery operations? Is Postal Service management equipped for such an endeavor?
    • What do you think?

    This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on Nov 30th, 2009 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 32 comments

    From public transportation to sports stadiums, venues use their prime real estate to sell space to advertisers and generate extra revenue. Take for example the Washington Metro transit system. Ad space is for sale everywhere — on buses and trains (inside and out) and even on train tunnel walls and floors.

    In these times of doing what it takes to maintain fiscal solvency, what if the Postal Service started selling its prime advertising real estate to generate revenue? Major advertisers might welcome the opportunity to place their ad on hundreds of thousand Postal Service trucks all over the country. Or smaller advertisers could take advantage of purchasing wall-space in a post office. The Postal Service actually explored selling advertising space around 2001 in a program called the Postal Ad Network, but it was discontinued after it raised much less money than initially expected. However, a major advertising slump hit right at the time the Postal Ad Network was rolling out.

    There are some major ‘what ifs.’ Who would manage the program and what would be charged for advertising? More importantly, what would the limitations be? When Major League Baseball proposed placing ads on bases, there was a major league backlash. How would the public react to advertising on Postal Service property? Would certain types of advertising be out of bounds? The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act does not permit the Postal Service to undertake new nonpostal products. Would selling advertising on Postal Service property violate the law? And how would selling advertising space affect the Postal Service’s brand?

    Putting aside those issues, would it be worth it? And what kind of increased revenue would an advertising program like this bring?

    This topic is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on Jul 20th, 2009 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 127 comments
    As noted in the update on Wednesday, there was a tremendous response to last week’s brainstorming exercise! As of Friday afternoon there were almost 350 comments posted -- many more than usual! If nothing else, this shows widespread and heartfelt concern for the well-being and financial viability of the Postal Service. Not only was the quantity of postings notable, so was the variety of ideas; they covered a broad spectrum, from cost-cutting possibilities to new lines of business. And many of the postings received replies, for instance Nostradamus' original posting received 13 replies, which is a testament to the thoughtfulness of everyone involved. The creativity shown by the participants makes categorizing the ideas difficult, but we’ve attempted to develop poll questions to highlight the common themes, and get your reaction as to the relative importance of these items. While every comment received attention, some ideas stood out as particularly thought-provoking or creative. In order to gauge your reactions as to the viability and value of a sample of ideas, we’ve developed another poll question. The following ideas were submitted by Sheri, Randy, D. Traver, Move into the future, JM, and others. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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