• on Dec 31st, 2012 in OIG | 4 comments
    The Postal Service faced its own fiscal cliff in 2012 while the larger mailing industry continued to press for reform and innovation. But don’t count mail out just yet. A strong election season reminded many Americans that mail still matters, even in the digital age. And in Europe, one postal operator didn’t let 500 years of history stand in the way of reinventing itself. 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 2012. After you read them, vote for your top story of the year, or let us know if we missed one. 10. Pitfalls of Sponsorship – The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency strips cycling legend Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles after accusing him of illegal doping while on the U.S. Postal Service team. 9. Sound as a Pound – Royal Mail positions itself for privatization after ending price controls, shifting its pension liability to the government, and earning a profit. 8. Regulatory Fireworks – The Postal Regulatory Commission approves a controversial and newspaper industry-opposed negotiated service agreement with Valassis and remands a portion of the Postal Service’s annual price increase, saying it ignored previous Commission orders. 7. A Vote for Election Mail – Direct mail still matters in politics. Election mail postage surged over $400 million as parties and politicians used mail to target their messages in contentious national and local elections. 6. Default This Year; Reform Next Year – The Postal Service defaults on two prefunding payments totaling $11.1 billion to the Retiree Health Benefits Fund. Lawmakers ready for a postal reform bill in the new Congress. 5. Terminator 2012: Rise of the Tablets, (Further) Decline of Print – Coincidence or not? Venerable publications, such as Newsweek and the Times Picayune newspaper, abandon or reduce their print editions, while the number of tablet owners doubled in the past year and reached 19 percent of adults. 4. Shrink to Fit – The Postal Service’s 5-year business plan calls for cutting costs by $20 billion through workforce reduction, consolidation of facilities, and elimination of Saturday delivery. In initial action, the Postal Service compromised and reduced hours at rural post offices rather than closing them and pushed back its plan to eliminate overnight delivery of First-Class Mail. 3. Postcards from the Edge – The Postal Service reaches its statutory borrowing limit of $15 billion for the first time ever and warned that it could run out of cash by October 2013, barring any significant action. 2. Brand Damage – Steady stream of bad news keeps the Postal Service in the news and threatens to hurt its brand, which could prove especially harmful as it reinvents its business model for the digital age. 1. Parcels are the New Letters – Same-day delivery trials by eBay and the Postal Service, the growth in parcel lockers, and the efforts of traditional brick-and-mortar powerhouse Wal-Mart to increase its online presence indicate a very bright future for packages.
  • on Dec 24th, 2012 in OIG | 0 comments
    Pushing the Envelope wishes our readers a joyful holiday season and a prosperous new year. We will take a break this week, but we encourage you to read over the past year’s blogs and let us know what you think on any of the wide range of topics we blogged on in 2012. We also want to remind you to visit the site next Monday when we will post our list of the Top 10 Stories of the Year. As always, we look forward to your comments and insights.
  • on Oct 22nd, 2012 in OIG | 2 comments
    Since the launch of “Pushing the Envelope” in October of 2008, we have been blogging on topics of interest to U.S. Postal Service stakeholders and the general public. We’ve published 212 blogs to date (this one makes 213). Since it is our birthday, we thought we’d take this time to reflect on the last year and to look to the future. First, thanks to our active readers who provide insightful commentary and food for thought. Your ideas and comments can turn into audit projects, white papers, or even the need to turn something over to our Office of Investigations. Our top five blogs this last year were: •Mail Delivery: Are These Steps Unnecessary?What’s the Score?Why Saturday?How Far Does Your 44 Cents Go?Who Should Pay for Mail Forwarding? The major interest in these blogs reflects the entire mailing community’s concern about the Postal Service’s finances and the long-term solutions for reinventing its business model. In your comments, you have not only conveyed your concerns, you have suggested new ideas and recommendations for solutions as well. We will continue to feature similar issues in the year to come in our ongoing effort to foster high-level discussion and interaction with the Postal Service stakeholder community. In March, we tried something new and hosted a 5-week guest blog series on the “Five Elements of a Postal Solution”. Guest commentators from inside and outside the postal community shared their views on the Posal Service’s mission, infrastructure, its role in the Digital Age, and federal mandates. The success of this series has prompted us to consider other novel ways to engage the public. Our older blogs also continue to generate new discussions. We’ve found our readers are interested in a wide range of postal topics, from workplace rules that seem to make little sense to the very broad category of ideas to help the Postal Service. •Brainstorm Ideas to Help the Postal ServiceThe OIG Wants to Know How You Feel About Sick LeaveSilly RulesNationwide Wage Uniformity As the Postal Service becomes leaner and more flexible and as it tries to connect with the younger generation, we will have no shortage of topics. In the year ahead, look for us to discuss important issues, including postal operations, customer service, digital solutions, workplace concerns, and the future of the postal system. We are also interested in hearing the specific topics you would like us to blog about. Some of our best ideas have come from our readers, so let us know in the comment section below. Thanks again for reading.

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