• on Jan 16th, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 21 comments

    City and rural carriers deliver and pick up mail, including letters and packages. In addition, they are familiar figures who care about the people they serve, often helping in dramatic ways while making their rounds in neighborhoods 6 days a week. The U.S. Postal Service has many examples of carriers sending for help when senior citizens fail to collect their mail, alerting residents of fires, aiding accident victims, and even stopping burglaries.

    But what else can carriers do? Could they provide additional services because, after all, carriers and their vehicles are present 6 days a week in every neighborhood in the U.S.? Each potential service opportunity for carriers should be evaluated by three criteria: the investment required, the risk assumed, and the potential benefits that could be achieved. So, what are some other responsibilities that carriers can take on while delivering the mail that would result in a positive return on the Postal Service’s investment?

    How about:
    • Meter Reading.
    • Gathering data on road and weather conditions in metropolitan areas by placing Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in carrier vehicles.
    • Collecting Census Data.
    • Updating mapping components in metropolitan areas (new addresses, etc.).
    • Delivering other items besides mail. Right now, the Postal Service offers last mile delivery service to UPS and FedEx. Who else can benefit from this service?

    What do you think about carriers handling non-postal related tasks? Do you think the Postal Service should provide additional services that can be handled by carriers? In addition to the services listed what would you suggest? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

    This blog is hosted by the OIG's Delivery Directorate.
  • on Aug 29th, 2011 in Products & Services | 5 comments
    The Pushing the Envelope blog recently described some of the barriers that have prevented the Postal Service from optimizing its network of retail facilities. This week we’d like your thoughts on the factors the Postal Service should consider in developing a retail network for the future. If the Postal Service were to rebuild its retail network from scratch — focusing on today’s consumer behaviors and needs — would it look as it does now? Today, there are about 32,000 brick and mortar postal-operated retail facilities. However, the Postal Service generates about 35 percent of retail revenue through alternative access channels. For example, customers can buy stamps and access postal services at http://www.usps.com/, self-service kiosks, grocery stores, retail outlets, and privately operated shipper locations. The availability of alternatives combined with declining mail volume and changing consumer needs has led the Postal Service to renew its efforts to optimize the retail facility network. In recent months, the Postal Service has initiated action to address some of the institutional barriers that have inhibited modernizing the postal retail network. For example, in July 2011, the agency published final rules to improve the Post Office closing and consolidation process. However, public debate looms over this initiative. Numerous news articles have circulated about the Postal Service’s plan to study thousands of retail facilities for discontinuance opportunities, some questioning whether the final rules conflict with postal laws. Others maintain that Post Offices are essential to keeping communities connected and businesses strong and therefore should remain open even if they are not profitable. What should the Postal Service consider as it seeks to transform its retail network to meet future consumer needs? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Network Optimization Directorate.
  • on May 16th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 21 comments
    Advertising mail is a core product for the U.S. Postal Service. It is an important way for businesses to reach their customers, but many local small businesses and others underuse or avoid advertising mail. The rules, rates, and regulations can be complex and confusing. For saturation mailings, simplified addressing allows businesses to use a simple “Postal Customer” address instead of a full street address. While the Postal Service has tested a number of simplified address products in the past, early this year it rolled out a national product available for all “flat-size” saturation mailings. In a recently released white paper titled Simplified Address Mail: An Easier Way for Small Businesses to Reach Local Customers, the Office of Inspector General, Risk Analysis Research Center lays out the advantages of the simplified address mail concept, which could potentially bring in over $1 billion in new revenue if fully implemented. Among the paper’s key findings:
    • Simplified address stems from the Postal Service’s core, hard-copy mail delivery business and could help keep mail relevant in an increasingly digital world.
    • Adding profitable simplified address mail volume could lower average unit costs and make universal service more affordable for all current and potential mail users.
    • Simplified address makes advertising mail easier to use and far less expensive for organizations that have traditionally shied away from directly using the mail.
    • Simplified addressing has long been the standard practice among foreign posts and often accounts for a significant proportion of their mail volume. The Postal Service has been the sole exception.
    The key to realizing all the benefits of simplified address mail depends on how the Postal Service implements the program. It must actively be promoted to small businesses and others and it must be made as easy as possible for customers to use. So, what do you think? Would you be receptive to receiving advertising materials for the restaurants, stores and services in your local neighborhood? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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