• on Nov 12th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 5 comments
    The historic election of 2012 is over. Whether your candidate won or lost, you can feel confident that the American electoral process, a model for the free world, worked as the Founding Fathers intended – even if they never could have imagined spending billions of dollars on an election. However, many citizens complained about the long lines at polling places and the unreasonable wait times. The wait times seemed to range from 30 minutes to several hours. In some cases, voters abandoned the polls altogether after a lengthy wait. States have decades of experience administering elections, so it is particularly vexing that voting is so time consuming. Why should it take longer to vote than it does to conduct other routine government business? In many states, motor vehicles can be renewed securely in several ways, at the citizen’s convenience. The citizen can renew in person at an office of the motor vehicle administration, mail a renewal form, or submit a renewal application online. What can be done to make voting quick, easy, convenient and yet still secure? Since 1998, citizens of the State of Oregon have securely cast their ballots exclusively by mail. Although postal voting has increased the amount of time necessary to tally votes, Oregon has reduced the cost of conducting elections and seen consistently higher turnout than the U.S. average. Ballots can either be mailed (earning the U.S. Postal Service some additional revenue) or dropped off free-of-charge at a ballot collection center. All 50 states already have a postal voting infrastructure in place through the offering of absentee paper ballots. In 2011 Washington State followed Oregon’s example of total postal voting and 27 other states allow anyone to vote by mail (without excuse). However there are still 22 states where postal voting is not an option without a valid and documented reason. In some localities, citizens can visit their local courthouse or other locations for early voting or to submit their absentee ballot in person, weeks before Election Day. Many citizens take advantage of these opportunities, even if the voting locale is less convenient than their polling place. The Post Office, as the heart of many local communities and a trusted government entity, might make an ideal place for early voting or in-person absentee voting. Do you agree? Do you think voting by mail would work in your community? Would you use the Post Office to cast your ballot if that were an option? Tell us what you think.
  • on Jul 23rd, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 2 comments
    Between Fiscal Years 2004 and 2011, the U.S. Postal Service implemented over 100 area mail processing (AMP) consolidations, reducing the number of mail processing facilities from 676 to 461. Following implementation of an AMP, the Postal Service completes a post-implementation review (PIR) — a two-step documented process that tells management whether or not an AMP achieved the anticipated results. The PIR compares pre- and post-consolidation data, including projected savings, costs, workhours, and levels of service. The first PIR is supposed to be completed approximately 6 months after the AMP consolidation and it usually indicates whether or not the AMP is going to achieve the projected savings. In addition, it alerts management of any action needed to ensure AMP goals are met. The second PIR is supposed to be completed after the first full year of implementation and it compares the proposed AMP results against the actual results to determine the success of the consolidation. Like the first PIR, it provides management an opportunity to take additional action as needed. Please share your ideas on the subject of PIRs and your responses to the questions below: • Do you think the PIR is an adequate success measurement tool for AMP consolidations? • Are there ways, other than a PIR, to measure the success or effectiveness of AMP consolidations? • Should PIR results be disclosed publicly? Why or why not? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Planning, Innovation, and Optimization directorate.
  • on May 21st, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 6 comments
    Though there has been a steady decline of customers’ usage of First-Class Mail™ over the last decade, writing and sending letters through the U.S. mail used to be very popular ways of letting someone know you cared. For example, many of us remember when we were kids waiting anxiously for the delivery of the mail to see whether that special birthday present from Grandma and Granddad had arrived. And, with sincere gratitude, many of us remember penning a letter to Grandma and Granddad, thanking them for that special birthday present. Family members often read, reflect on, and cherish letters exchanged decades ago between family, lovers, and friends. These letters often serve as time machines, transporting younger generations back to an era where they can gain fascinating insight into their loved ones’ lives or valuable information about the family dynamics of previous generations. Writing and sending letters is a time honored tradition that offers tangible evidence that the writer cares or doesn’t care about the recipient of the letter. Letters and greeting cards visually connect the receiver to the sender through handwriting, images, or messages in the letter or greeting card. Experian QAS, a provider of address management solutions, found that most people prefer to receive greeting cards. The company surveyed 500 respondents about their greeting card preferences, and 92 percent preferred receiving greeting cards mailed through the postal services over receiving e-cards. Email messages, on the other hand, have their advantages. For example, emails can be sent and received instantly wherever there is Internet service. Email does not require physical storage and if the receiver doesn’t want anyone to read the email, it can be password protected or discarded with a click of the mouse. Yet, with all the modern conveniences of emails, how many people remember the first email they ever sent or received? How many people can appreciate the sensory connection to a loved one through an email? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Office of Audit.

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