• on Mar 14th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 13 comments
    How can the Postal Service solve its financial problems? What is the future role of the Postal Service at a time when digital alternatives are replacing many of the functions of hard copy mail? These are the questions facing policymakers and the postal community. Sometimes the best way to answer serious questions is to ask even more questions. A deeper look at foundational issues can provide valuable guidance for reaching the right decisions. Last month, the OIG issued a white paper Fundamental Questions for the Future of the Postal Service. In the paper, we pose eight questions that we think are fundamental for determining the role of the Postal Service in the 21st century: 1. What is the nation’s essential need for the Postal Service in the 21st century? 2. Is a profit-driven business or a national infrastructure best suited to carry out the Postal Service’s mission? 3. How should the nation’s Postal Service be financed? 4. What is the proper governance model for the Postal Service? 5. What does the universal service obligation mean? 6. Does monopoly-financed universal service assist or harm the Postal Service? 7. Should the Postal Service be allowed to expand into nonpostal services to supplement monopoly shortfall? 8. Should the Postal Service have additional social responsibilities beyond its core mission? We are raising these questions not to provide answers but to spur discussion. We want to hear your views. What do you think the right answers are? Have we left any fundamental questions out? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Jan 17th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy, Uncategorized | 10 comments
    Coopetition, is a buzzword cropping up in many business publications these days. Basically, it means that competing firms look for ways to cooperate with each other, rather than compete head-to-head for business. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, the United Parcel Service (UPS) now has a program that allows customers of participating retailers to return merchandise by dropping it in any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, or at any post office. The program features a special label that makes the service possible. After a return package is dropped off at a Postal Service location, a UPS driver picks it up and the UPS ground network transports it back to the retailer. UPS, which has its main air hub in Louisville, KY, began testing the service last year with a few retailers and is expanding it because of “positive response.” Some say this is an example of successful coopetition. There are a number of other current partnership programs with competitors. The Postal Service acts as a “last mile” partner for both UPS and FedEx, handling thousands of deliveries. Federal Express performs similar duties for the Postal Service providing air service for Postal Service parcels domestically as well as providing international logistics for the Postal Service’s Global Express Guaranteed service. In certain conditions, coopetition can be a “win-win-win”; helping not only the two businesses, but also the consumer. Do you think these partnerships benefit the public through greater efficiencies or hurt the competitive level? Let us know what you think! This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Oct 25th, 2010 in Strategy & Public Policy | 8 comments
    A recent consumer study released by Epsilon Targeting shows direct mail is still important to us. As a method to advertise goods and services, direct mail plays a major role in many consumer decisions — especially among young adults. The market research firm conducted a survey of adults in more than 4,700 U.S. and Canadian households, looking at their preferences among the traditional and new media channels for obtaining information. The survey confirmed findings from 2008, which noted that consumers are using a larger number of media, with their choices influenced by factor, such as convenience, trust, depth of content, and the “green factor.” The survey indicated younger consumers not only found direct mail to be more trustworthy than other channels, including online, but also found that it was the preferred channel for obtaining information. In the 14 consumer categories covered in the survey, American respondents in the 18-34 year age bracket preferred mail as an information source by a wide margin in almost every category, except travel. Although there’s little doubt e-mail and social networking have found a way into the marketing mix, the findings of this study show that direct mail and other “offline” media still play a role with consumers across every age. Does direct mail still play a role in your shopping choices? Let us know! This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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