• on Sep 28th, 2009 in Labor | 190 comments
    Silly Signs, Silly Rules –- Know Any?

    Workplace rules exist for a reason. Some rules are designed to protect employees’ rights and their safety, while others protect the employer and workplace. Then there are some rules that are just plain silly, and we ask ourselves why are they even are in place.

    Sometimes the best way to find these rules is to ask. Last March, Major General Michael Oates of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division asked for information on the stupidest rules or policies in the Army in his Mountain Sound Off blog. Soldiers commented on everything from uniform regulations to policies on leave. FederalTimes.com borrowed the same idea and asked its readers, “What are the dumbest workplace rules affecting you?”

    Since we know you aren’t shy, we thought we’d ask you the same question about the Postal Service. What Postal Service workplace rules are hindering you from doing your job? Are there rules or processes in place that no longer apply or need to be changed to meet today’s business needs? Let us know what you think.

    This blog is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on Sep 21st, 2009 in Mail Processing & Transportation | 90 comments
    Keep Sunday Operations?

    We’ve all heard the bad news. Mail volume in fiscal year (FY) 2008 totaled 202.7 billion pieces, a decline of 9.5 billion pieces or 4.5 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. Mail volume has declined even further this year. At the end of the last quarter, mail volume was down more than 12 percent from the same period last year. Most recently, the Postal Service lost $2.4 billion in the third quarter of FY 2009 and projected a net loss of more than $7 billion for FY 2009.

    As a panelist during the August 6 Senate subcommittee hearings on the Postal Service, Postmaster General Jack Potter once again focused on the need for 5-day delivery, greater flexibility, and the elimination of some network infrastructure. During the same hearings, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended urgent action to streamline the mail processing and retail networks as the Postal Service no longer has sufficient revenues to cover the cost of maintaining its large network of processing and retail facilities.

    End Sunday Operations?

    The reality of the current situation is that in many areas the Postal Service has an excess of equipment, staff, and facilities to process a declining volume of mail. Given the harsh economic conditions faced by the Postal Service today, looking at opportunities to cut costs by streamlining inefficient operations or eliminating unnecessary ones makes good business sense.

    One area for consideration is the elimination of Sunday mail processing operations. In many Processing and Distribution Centers around the nation, mail processing activities are run on Saturday night and into Sunday just as they are the rest of the week.

    With mail volume declining, should the Postal Service reduce mail processing operation to 6 days a week, rather than the traditional 7 days, and allow employees to have Sunday off?

    This blog is hosted by the Network Operations directorate.

  • on Sep 14th, 2009 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 50 comments
    Like most retailers, the Postal Service uses mystery shoppers — customers unknown to the retail staff who fill out evaluations on their shopping experience — to determine how well retail units are performing. Not every postal retail unit is visited by mystery shoppers. Only units with a certain amount of revenue are included in the mystery shopper program.

    Mystery shoppers record how long they spent in line, how the retail unit looked, how courteous the retail associates were, and other details about their visit. For example, sales associates are supposed to ask whether a package contains anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous. Mystery shoppers are asked to note down whether anyone asked them this about their package.

    Five weeks ago, Pushing the Envelope dealt with the topic of “upselling.” Some of the questions on the mystery shopper evaluation relate to which products sales associates promote to their customers. Given the variety of customers and types of transactions, the need for a uniform approach to customers is important. Is it appropriate, however, to include items generally viewed as “upselling” in the mystery shopper program?

    What about the mystery shopper program in general? Is it effective or can it be improved? What do you think is the most effective way to ensure postal retail units provide good retail service?

    This blog is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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