• on Oct 22nd, 2012 in OIG | 2 comments
    Since the launch of “Pushing the Envelope” in October of 2008, we have been blogging on topics of interest to U.S. Postal Service stakeholders and the general public. We’ve published 212 blogs to date (this one makes 213). Since it is our birthday, we thought we’d take this time to reflect on the last year and to look to the future. First, thanks to our active readers who provide insightful commentary and food for thought. Your ideas and comments can turn into audit projects, white papers, or even the need to turn something over to our Office of Investigations. Our top five blogs this last year were: •Mail Delivery: Are These Steps Unnecessary?What’s the Score?Why Saturday?How Far Does Your 44 Cents Go?Who Should Pay for Mail Forwarding? The major interest in these blogs reflects the entire mailing community’s concern about the Postal Service’s finances and the long-term solutions for reinventing its business model. In your comments, you have not only conveyed your concerns, you have suggested new ideas and recommendations for solutions as well. We will continue to feature similar issues in the year to come in our ongoing effort to foster high-level discussion and interaction with the Postal Service stakeholder community. In March, we tried something new and hosted a 5-week guest blog series on the “Five Elements of a Postal Solution”. Guest commentators from inside and outside the postal community shared their views on the Posal Service’s mission, infrastructure, its role in the Digital Age, and federal mandates. The success of this series has prompted us to consider other novel ways to engage the public. Our older blogs also continue to generate new discussions. We’ve found our readers are interested in a wide range of postal topics, from workplace rules that seem to make little sense to the very broad category of ideas to help the Postal Service. •Brainstorm Ideas to Help the Postal ServiceThe OIG Wants to Know How You Feel About Sick LeaveSilly RulesNationwide Wage Uniformity As the Postal Service becomes leaner and more flexible and as it tries to connect with the younger generation, we will have no shortage of topics. In the year ahead, look for us to discuss important issues, including postal operations, customer service, digital solutions, workplace concerns, and the future of the postal system. We are also interested in hearing the specific topics you would like us to blog about. Some of our best ideas have come from our readers, so let us know in the comment section below. Thanks again for reading.
  • on Jan 2nd, 2012 in OIG | 5 comments
    It’s been a year of major changes in the postal world. Looking over the headlines, the staff at the Office of Inspector General has pulled together the list below of the top 10 postal stories for 2011. Take a moment, read them over, and vote for your top story of the year. If you think we missed one, let us know! 10.Another Year, Another Loss – Even with a deferral of the retiree health payment, the Postal Service loses $5.1 billion in 2011, although $3.7 billion is changes to workers’ compensation expenses. 9.To Exigent or Not to Exigent – After federal appeals court remands the exigency case back to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the Postal Service is still undecided on whether it will pursue higher than CPI rates. 8.Pension Funding in the Black – OPM projects a $13.1 billion surplus in the Postal Service’s FERS and CSRS pension accounts for 2011. 7.DVDs by Mail Not Dead Yet – Netflix is forced to backpedal after customers rail against the company’s plan to unbundle DVDs by mail. 6.GAO Just Says No Overpayment – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) weighs in on the debate about the Postal Service’s $75 billion CSRS overpayment, stating there was no evidence of accounting errors and returning the funds is ultimately a policy choice that impacts the federal budget. 5.Digital Media to the Rescue – Ironically, blogs such as Dead Tree Edition, Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, and Save the Post Office are driving the debate in the area of hard copy postal issues. 4.Is Overnight Over? – The Postal Service proposes changing delivery service standards, including eliminating overnight delivery for First-Class Mail, to capture savings from network consolidation. 3.Plethora of Bills, Paucity of Law – An unprecedented interest in postal reform yields an abundance of legislative proposals, yet still no new law. 2.Cut, Cut, Cut – The Postal Service announces a provocative plan to break labor contracts, withdraw from federal health and retirement plans, and seek workforce reductions of 220,000 through layoffs and attrition. 1.Something’s Got to Give Round 1 – The Postal Service’s aggressive plans to close about 250 processing plants and more than 3,600 post offices hits strong opposition leading to a temporary moratorium on closings until May 15, 2012. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.
  • on Oct 17th, 2011 in OIG | 3 comments
    Pushing the Envelope is entering its fourth year! So on this annual observance of our birthday, let’s look back at some of the successes of our third year and consider where we hope to take this blog in the next year. We published our first blog in October 2008, and since that time, Pushing the Envelope has tried to highlight a number of important postal issues for the benefit of postal stakeholders and the public at large. In the last year alone, 1046 comments have been posted in response to topics on our blog. In the 2011 fiscal year, we posted 55 new blog topics on a range of subjects. Our most viewed topics from the last year included: 1) Is 5-Day Delivery in the Future? 2) The Postal Service Workers Compensation Program 3) Is “Coopetition” a Good Thing for the Postal Service? 4) The OIG Wants Your Help on Audits 5) What’s Next for the Postal Service in 2011? As you can see, our blogs covered a wide range topics including prominent public policy issues, Postal Service business practices, and the core functions of the OIG’s office. Also, many of our older, favorite blogs continued to generate views and discussion on the comment boards. Our top 5 blogs of all time are: 1) The OIG Wants to Know How You Feel about Sick Leave 2) Silly Rules 3) Brainstorm Ideas to Help the Postal Service 4) Nationwide Wage Uniformity: Is It a Good Idea for the Postal Service? 5) 5-Day Delivery, What about 3-Day? Most of the blogs published in 2011 were written with the Postal Service’s financial condition as the backdrop. We tried to use Pushing the Envelope as a discussion forum to get feedback on new and unique ideas for insuring the Postal Service’s future including developing a comprehensive postal digital strategy, adding new mail products like carbon neutral delivery, and updating older non-postal products like money orders with electronic pre-paid cards. Whether or not these ideas become a reality, we hope to facilitate an open, honest discussion about their pros and cons. This year we also focused on helping our readers understand the core functions of the OIG with blogs about how our Office of Audit works and the ways that the OIG detects and combats contract fraud. Additionally, you, the Pushing the Envelope readers, helped the OIG detect waste, fraud, and abuse by posting 17 comments that were referred to our investigation hotline. This next year should be an important and memorable year for the Postal Service, and we plan to continue focusing on crucial postal policy issues as well as identifying fraud and waste. So, what topics would you like to see covered on the OIG blog in 2012? Are there any things you think we should change? Let us know in the comments section below. Most importantly, thanks for visiting us for the last three years and keep commenting!

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