• on Dec 6th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 8 comments
    Mailings that meet minimum volume and preparation requirements to qualify for reduced postage rates are called business mail. Properly accepting business mailings is critical for the Postal Service since it accounted for $25 billion in revenue in 2010. Several types of Postal Service facilities accept business mail. Business Mail Entry Units have acceptance clerks with specialized training and systems for accepting business mail. Local Post Offices can also accept business mail. Most revenue for bulk business mailings is recorded using a system called PostalOne!. PostalOne! has built-in controls that assist clerks in properly accepting the mail. However, approximately 11,000 units that recorded more than $114 million in Permit Imprint and Periodicals transactions in FY 2010 have been forced to operate without PostalOne!. Regardless of the level of training or type of system used, each unit must accept, verify, and collect postage for mail according to required policies and procedures, a process for which it is crucial to have PostalOne!. If classified and accepted improperly the Postal Service risks accepting improperly prepared mail or mail paid at an improper rate. For the past several years, the Postal Service has faced significant revenue losses due in part to decreased mail volume and increased competition from other media alternatives. The Postal Service must continue to explore opportunities to improve processes and eliminate redundancies in their system. Because business mail acceptance generates a significant amount of revenue, the Postal Service may want to reevaluate the number of entry points for accepting business mailings, including the 11,000 units not on PostalOne!. Do you think that the Postal Service should restructure the entry points for business mail? Give us your comment below. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – East team.
  • on Oct 11th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 7 comments
    PostalOne!® is a web-based system designed to facilitate business mail processing and allows the Postal Service to electronically collaborate with business mail customers. It is also used to streamline the mail acceptance and postage payment process. Mailers can either submit a paper postage statement (a summary of items mailed showing postage) or use one of three electronic formats. •Mail.dat® •Mail.XML •Postal Statement Wizard (PSW). Mailers may qualify for Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) discounts when they submit postage statements electronically using Mail.dat or Mail.XML. The Mail.XML submission method supports near real time validation of mailing data as well as compatibility with current ecommerce technology. Mailers can also enter mailing information, such as type and quantity of items mailed into the PostalOne! system over the Internet using Postal Statement Wizard. Both Mail.dat and Mail.XML submissions have increased in recent years. In June 2010, over half of all postage statements were submitted electronically, and of those, 89% were submitted using Mail.dat. That’s a sharp contrast from the beginning of the fiscal year, when 78% of business mail postage statements were submitted in hardcopy format. While electronic postage statement processing is a promising tool for making the Postal Service more efficient, it still faces issues: Does the cost of mailer software development and upgrade offset IMb discounts? Are rejected electronic postage statement files processed timely? Does it help the Postal Service to collect all its revenue? What do you think of businesses submitting and postal employees accepting business mail postage statements electronically? Is electronic postage statement submission a boon or a bust? More information on this project can be found on our Audit Projects page. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Cost, Revenue & Rates audit team.
  • on Jul 12th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 5 comments
    The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002 grew out of large corporate financial scandals. SOX aims to improve corporate governance and enhance the accuracy of financial reporting. While compliance is required by the Postal Act of 2006, the Postal Service believes it is a great way to make its business stronger. SOX helps target areas of improvement and strengthen financial accounting, making the Postal Service a better business. As a result, the Postal Service designed and implemented new business mail acceptance procedures and requirements in an effort to comply with SOX. The initiative includes new check-in, verification, recording, placarding, and induction procedures for processing business mail; daily certifications of SOX compliance by business mail entry units; an updated mail acceptance handbook; and enhanced customer use of the PostalOne! system. Although the Postal Service hopes to strengthen its financial integrity and reporting accountability and reinforce the public’s trust in the Postal Service, there is widespread confusion at postal facilities about SOX compliance and how it changes (or does not change) mail acceptance and verification policies. Mailers and service providers often argue that postal facilities are misinterpreting SOX compliance policies, describing problems such held-up mailings, inconsistent acceptance processes, insufficient education and training, and inconsistent approvals from postal personnel. What do you think about the Postal Service’s new business mail acceptance procedures? We’d like to hear from you. We are also currently conducting an audit evaluating whether the Postal Service is effectively implementing the requirements of SOX. Click here for more information or to provide comments on the audit. This topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – Central team.

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