• on Jul 26th, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 8 comments
    Millions of people trust the Postal Service to mail their bills and cast their vote. In our previous voting by mail blog, concerns about potential fraud were identified and whether their votes would reach their destination. Others identified the potential for the Postal Service to expand its role and expressed relief in avoiding long lines to cast their votes.
    “The answer to the nation’s voting anxiety is not a national standard that imposes new rules on an outdated system of polling places. The answer is a low-tech, low-cost, reliable, and convenient system that makes it easier to vote and easier to count votes. The answer is Vote-by-Mail.” — Bill Bradbury, Former Secretary of State, Oregon
    Various voting methods have been explored over the years to provide secure and convenient ways for citizens to cast their votes and provide municipalities with cost-cutting opportunities. One method under consideration is voting by mail. The Postal Service has repeatedly been ranked as one of the most trusted government agencies and has a significant role in today’s voting landscape. The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act, introduced by California Representative Susan Davis, will provide all eligible voters the option to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections for any reason. Currently, states such as Oregon and Washington use voting by mail extensively and many cities, counties, and other states are getting on board. Oregon boasts over a decade of voting by mail resulting in increased voter turnout, cost savings, and only nine fraud cases out of 15 million mail ballots cast. For years, the military has used the mail to allow overseas personnel to cast their votes. The Postal Service claims there are advantages to voting by mail, such as: •Increasing voter participation. •Giving voters a longer opportunity to study the initiatives, the candidates, and the ballot. •Providing an automatic paper trail. •Eliminating confusion about where to vote. •Providing privacy and security. •Offering a variety of formats to communicate with voters. •Giving easy and cost-effective solutions for returning ballots to help increase response. •Providing technology to help registrars update and correct voter registration lists and addresses before an election. •Offering return services at no additional charge with First-Class Mail®. Supporters of mail voting claim greater and more informed voter participation, less fraud, and lower administrative costs. Opponents say there is a risk of unauthorized voter participation, loss of the secret ballot, increased chance of fraud, inappropriate pressure from interest groups, and fewer opportunities for the community to come together. What do you think about voting by mail? We want to hear your experiences and ideas. What value does vote by mail add? What concerns or risks exist? Please share your opinions. This topic is hosted by the Human Resources & Security team.
  • 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 Jul 12th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 5 comments
    The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002 grew out of large corporate financial scandals. SOX aims to improve corporate governance and enhance the accuracy of financial reporting. While compliance is required by the Postal Act of 2006, the Postal Service believes it is a great way to make its business stronger. SOX helps target areas of improvement and strengthen financial accounting, making the Postal Service a better business. As a result, the Postal Service designed and implemented new business mail acceptance procedures and requirements in an effort to comply with SOX. The initiative includes new check-in, verification, recording, placarding, and induction procedures for processing business mail; daily certifications of SOX compliance by business mail entry units; an updated mail acceptance handbook; and enhanced customer use of the PostalOne! system. Although the Postal Service hopes to strengthen its financial integrity and reporting accountability and reinforce the public’s trust in the Postal Service, there is widespread confusion at postal facilities about SOX compliance and how it changes (or does not change) mail acceptance and verification policies. Mailers and service providers often argue that postal facilities are misinterpreting SOX compliance policies, describing problems such held-up mailings, inconsistent acceptance processes, insufficient education and training, and inconsistent approvals from postal personnel. What do you think about the Postal Service’s new business mail acceptance procedures? We’d like to hear from you. We are also currently conducting an audit evaluating whether the Postal Service is effectively implementing the requirements of SOX. Click here for more information or to provide comments on the audit. This topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – Central team.

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