on Sep 19th, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 12 comments
 
Let’s take a simplistic view of the Postal Service by dividing it into two groups: Operations and Finance. Operations’ main concern is to make sure mail is delivered and other services are rendered to satisfy customers’ needs. On the other hand, Finance’s responsibility is to ensure that all the information stemming from the Operations side is captured for billing/payment and financial statement reporting purposes. After all, the Postal Service needs to be paid for their good work, doesn’t it? Based on audits of prior years’ financial statements, it seems Operations personnel were not always aware what financial impact their action or inaction had on the Postal Service when it came to the big picture. For example, Operations personnel might process the mail and deliver it to the customers’ satisfaction. However, internal supporting documentation and data might not have been updated in a timely manner. When personnel do not process documentation for services rendered according to Postal Service policy, the Postal Service risks losing money. Over the years, management has taken steps to provide Operations and Finance personnel with the bigger picture. They have advised the Operations side of their impact on the Postal Service’s financials and the repercussions of not completing processes correctly. The question is do you believe this endeavor has been successful? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. This blog is hosted by the OIG's Financial Reporting Directorate.

12 Comments


As a result of SOX, both Finance and Operations are interacting more these days. Both need to ensure the controls related to revenue completeness for accurately identified and implemented.

I agree, the requirement for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act compliance has served to help close the gap to a certain extent. SOX has brought to light the importance of ensuring key controls, linked to financial statement assertions such as completeness, within major processes are in place and working. In addition, those charged with the responsibility of determining whether a control is key and those responsible for carrying out the control have most likely been made aware of the risk involved if these key controls are not in place and working. During our review of these controls, while there is still some room for improvement, we see that personnel continue to gain an understanding of the impact of their action or non action on information headed for the financial statements. But I still wonder about those areas not included in our reviews.

You're kidding, right? SOX???

As the proverb says, "It's hard to drain the swamp when you're up to your a** in alligators." Many mid-size and large Post Offices and Stations lost their Finance Supervisors in the last couple of years. The remaining supervisors are expected to spend all their effort and attention on delivery. The required financial controls are given minimal attention--just enough to stay off the radar. Lauri's comment is correct for BMEUs, but not for Postal Retail Units. If anything, it's getting worse.

With front line supervisors having more responsibilities thrown at them due to loss of finance, safety, timekeeping, etc. personnel, they are tasked with connecting these functions to their units and relaying the same. With so much to do, very little gets shared with the operations and no real good performance measurements get shared. Therefore, employees don't know from day to day whether they are doing better or worse. For a communications company, we do a poor job of communicating.

The required financial controls are given minimal attention–just enough to stay off the radar. Lauri’s comment is correct for BMEUs, but not for Postal Retail Units. If anything, it’s getting worse.

Is this the same as the finance person who comes to our office and tells us we must sell the products to our customers without taking any extra time. Then continues on how bad see has it by having to visit 7 office in 5 days while where pivoting an hour each day. Less people who touch the mail, the better.

Neither operations nor finance have a clue what the other is doing nor do either have any idea what is going on in the field. As always they are only concerned with their objective only. I have blogged on this subject countless times and apparently only the other bloggers read it--not the persons asking the questions. Operations are all consumed with numbers, at all costs. We have paid ennormous costs to deliver one letter hundreds of miles "just in case" it may be that "magic" letter that raises the overnight score just a bit. We pay enormous amounts of overtime, sending multiple carriers out onto the street just to keep one from returning past 1700--all for that elusive score. Finance has imposed rules that violate our own manuals to make themselves look good. We now count all clerks cash drawers before the tenth of each month--not on a random basis as OUR OWN RULES call for. It is ok to miss the 30 day cut off as long as it is before the 10th, again violating our own rules--as long as we can be monitored by finance. NO-NO-NO. Operations and Finance do not "work together" and they will not until they learn to work with the field. They have no clue what the others do or why they do it. SOX is a joke. It is a word used for intimidation and discipline in the Postal Service. It no longer stands for the Sarbanes Oxley Act. It should be replaced with EEO. In the district I work in, Operations has implemented a computer program called AM-PM where one must verify twice a day that the mail is cleared from the building. If this program is not logged onto by a certain time, this is a SOX violation. Where is this written in Sarbanes Oxley? This is only one example of discipline for "sox". The best thing the Postal Service could to make sure that Operations and Finance work together is to get rid of ALL of them at the district level and most of them at the area level. They are unneccessary.

With Google able to shut down blog sites because what is said or on them is the truth about the Federal Government, the USPS ought to become a sight that bloggers can use. Google and Word press are the dominant ones now. These companies make billions offof paid advertisers. Compete with Twitter, Facebook, My space or other social medias by having your own social media site that is not monitored by the USofA government,does not require extensive profiles and then start getting paid advertising to go along with that an a social media site which might be called Mailspace, Mailbox, etc. Also advertise on TV that a blogger can use your site through which to blog. Use the click system which pays both you and the blogger when someone clicks on an advertisement. You would have to investigate how this woks. Bloggers are looking for away to express themselves in a positive manner. If a blog is distasteful to many people kill that blog as it is not what your uses want. Most blogs look like web sites. Show that the USPS honors the first amendment, but will not honor certain sites, just like Craig's list does not allow certain thins put up for sale on its sites Think abut it, you would not have a deficit at all. I even hate to use email, as I know that this too is monitored by the Federal Government, which calls all USofA citizens "terrorists" Again, I emphasize introduce and advertise a new social media site with an app on the Iphones, etc, plus get paid for advertisers. Google and Yahoo both offer setting up blogs plus putting ads on the bloggers site, for a fee that offer something that a person reading the blog would be interested in, but many times the advertisement has nothing to do with the blog, but the ordinary Peron would be interested in it. This is more than worth exploring, it would be a money maker for the USPS. You should let more people know that you will accept blogs on your site, but you conrol the blogs not google or word press.

Glad i stumbled across this blog it has some very inportant information thanks

As long as the mail gets delivered, I don't see a problem unless the people at the postal service say otherwise.

I think with any business, it's best if the operations and finance sides can work together. At times, it may seem like too many people have their hands in the pot, but I think that when you can work together successfully, the end result turns out better.

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