• on Jan 30th, 2012 in Strategy & Public Policy | 2 comments
    As America was expanding in the 1780s, the founding fathers realized that open access to secure and private communication among its dispersed citizens was critical to forming political groups and holding free elections without fear of retribution. The U.S. Constitution empowered Congress “to establish post offices and post roads,” the most common form of telecommunication (communication over a distance) in 1789. The founding fathers provided the necessary infrastructure to “bind” the growing nation together through communication and commerce. Thereby, the Post Office Department (now the U. S. Postal Service) was born.

    In the late 1800s, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case involving conflicting interest between two electric telegraph companies, stated a broad interpretation of Congress’ constitutional postal powers:

    “…The powers thus granted are not confined to the instrumentalities of commerce, or the postal service known or in use when the Constitution was adopted, but they keep pace with the progress of the country, and adapt themselves to the new developments of time and circumstances. They extend from the horse with its rider to the stage coach, from the sailing vessel to the steamboat, from the coach and the steamboat to the railroad, and from the railroad to the telegraph, as these new agencies are successively brought into use to meet the demands of increasing population and wealth.” (PENSACOLA TEL. CO. V. WESTERN UNION TEL. CO., 96 U. S. 1 (1877))

    The Postal Service has modernized many times over, moving well beyond manually sorting letters and delivery mail via horse-riders. Today, however, people, government, and businesses are transitioning to using the Internet to communicate, because of lower cost and nearly instant delivery. Yet, the Internet lacks privacy and security in digital communications and transactions. In addition, Internet access is too expensive or merely unavailable for many elderly or poor citizens. While free markets excel at many things, enforcing privacy and security or providing access to disadvantaged groups have not been among the core responsibilities of the market. In America, these have historically been the duties of its representative government.

    America’s requirements for a secure national communications system have evolved since the Constitution was drafted, but the fundamental need for such a system seems to remain. Does America need secure universal digital postal services as much today as it needed traditional mail in the past? What do you think?

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

  • on Jul 11th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 17 comments
    The American marketplace is experiencing constant changes in the ways that companies conduct business and communicate with customers. Like other businesses, the Postal Service must also innovate to stay relevant. The Office of Inspector General plans to examine innovation processes currently used by major U.S. corporations to learn about best practices/processes. The essence of innovation is to identify a problem and develop solutions. For example, Google and Facebook are successful because their websites meet needs of people to manage and organize vast amounts of information and social relationships available on the Internet. The Postal Service has enjoyed some success with innovative products. Its Priority Mail Flat Rate products have become popular, shipping 350 million boxes over the last 6 years, with revenue of $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2010. This product met the need to simplify the shipping process and was relevant to both consumers and business. What should the Postal Service do to identify business opportunities and customer needs in order to create solutions that lead to financial success and customer satisfaction? Also, what experience(s) have you had with Postal Service innovation? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Planning and Strategic Studies Directorate.
  • on Jul 4th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 3 comments
    In response to a Government Accountability Office report and a Congressional request, the Postal Service introduced its Transformation Plan in 2002. Since then, the Postal Service has seen many changes, including a new postmaster general (PMG) and senior management team. Mail volume has declined due to electronic diversion and the recession. In addition, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 changed how the Postal Service operates and conducts business. The Postal Service released its plan, Ensuring a Viable Postal Service for America: An Action Plan for the Future, in March 2010. The plan outlined cost-cutting, increased productivity, and legislative and regulatory changes necessary to maintain a viable Postal Service. In December 2010, the new PMG announced his four core strategies for the Postal Service: 1.Strengthening the business-to-consumer channel. 2.Improving the customer experience. 3.Competing for package business. 4.Becoming a leaner, faster, and smarter organization. It is a daunting task for any organization to implement new strategies. We have established an Audit Project Page to provide another opportunity for our stakeholders to comment on this issue. Click here to review – Postal Service Core Strategy Linkage. We are interested in hearing your views on the four core strategies. What is needed to ensure the success of these strategies and what outcomes do you believe the core strategies are intended to achieve? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Planning and Strategic Studies Directorate.

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