• on Jul 19th, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 29 comments
    UPS and FedEx frequently attempt residential deliveries when customers are not home. After a series of failed delivery attempts, these companies return the packages to their local distribution centers, forcing customers to travel to these remote locations to collect their packages. What if the Postal Service offered residential customers a service allowing them to use their local Post Office™ as an alternate delivery address? A delivery company would do its delivery scan at the Post Office and send an e-mail or text message to a customer telling him or her that a package is available. The customer could either pick up the package or have the Postal Service deliver it to his or her home on a specified day. The Postal Service could charge the customer a per-package or periodic (monthly or yearly) fee, or the delivery company could offer this service free of charge. In the latter case, the Postal Service could charge the delivery company, and the customer ordering a product to be shipped via UPS or FedEx could specify whether he or she wants the product delivered to a designated Post Office after the first, second, or third home delivery attempt. Post Offices would need space to store packages until customers pick up their packages or the Postal Service delivers them, so some Post Offices might be incapable of offering this service. Since this new service would most likely be considered a postal product, legal constraints should be limited. However, questions about access to postal facilities and security need to be addressed when exploring this opportunity. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Jun 18th, 2010 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 41 comments
    The U.S. Postal Service’s current fleet of more than 219,000 vehicles includes approximately 146,000 delivery vehicles, most of which are long-life vehicles (LLVs). The first LLVs were produced in 1987, and they average about 10 miles per gallon. The vehicles are right-hand drive to accommodate drivers delivering numerous mailpieces to curbside mailboxes. These iconic right-hand drive delivery trucks are nearing the end of a 24-year life cycle and are costly to maintain. In a recent audit, we noted that it cost the Postal Service about $524 million to fix the LLVs in fiscal year 2009. More than 40,000 trucks required more than $3,500 each in maintenance and another 19,000 of these required an average of $5,600 in repairs consecutively in 2008 and 2009. At this rate, for the high maintenance segment of the fleet, repairs in the next eight years will cost $342 million more than it would to buy new trucks. Considering the growing costs of maintaining this unique but aging fleet, what are your thoughts on a cost-effective, but practical replacement delivery vehicle fleet? To read the full report go to http://www.uspsoig.gov/foia_files/DA-AR-10-005.pdf.
     
    The Office of Audit Engineering & Facilities team is hosting this topic.
  • on Apr 26th, 2010 in OIG | 195 comments
    The debate about the Postal Service’s future is heating up and Pushing the Envelope is interested in your views. Last week the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held a hearing on the Future of the Postal Service. The week before there was a hearing in the House on the Postal Service’s financial crisis and future viability, and on April 12, the Government Accountability Office issued a report laying out the strategies and options to maintain the Postal Service’s viability. Some of the strategies under discussion include: • Ending Saturday delivery. • Reducing the size of the workforce. • Making postal employees pay the same share of health and life insurance premiums that other federal employees pay. • Generating revenue through new products. • Allowing the Postal Service more pricing freedom. • Restructuring the Postal Service’s network of mail processing facilities. • Moving retail services from Post Offices to alternative access options. One item that is generating a great deal of discussion is whether the large payments the Postal Service must make for retiree health benefits should be restructured. One option is to give back some of the excess pension funding and allow the Postal Service to use these funds for other purposes. In January, the Office of Inspector General for the Postal Service issued a report that found the Postal Service had been overcharged $75 billion for its pension obligations from 1971 to 2009 because of an inequitable method of calculating the size of those obligations. Adding to this inequity is the fact that the Postal Service is currently required to fund 100 percent of its retiree health and pension obligations. Very few in private industry do this, and the rest of the federal government’s pension funding level is only 41 percent. In addition, the OIG believes that the forecast of the Postal Service’s future retiree health care costs is too high. Fixing these issues could save the Postal Service $7 billion a year. What do you think? Which strategies will be most useful to the Postal Service? Should the mix of strategies include cutting delivery service?
     
    This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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