• 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!
  • on Oct 10th, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 57 comments
    Much emphasis has been placed on reducing the Postal Service’s costs in response to its financial crisis. Yet financial viability could come in the form of a balanced approach that both reduces costs and increases revenue. How would a smart business respond to declines in its major products? Would it raise prices where possible in stagnant areas and invest the proceeds into existing or new growth areas? Would it selectively discount products to grow volume in price sensitive segments? Disruptive innovation, such as that underway in the communications sphere, requires change to ensure the Postal Service has what it needs to move beyond the critical crossroad it faces today. The Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center’s new paper Postal Service Revenue: Structures, Facts, and Future Possibilities (Report Number RARC-WP-12-002) addresses the major components of the Postal Service’s revenue structure in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, assesses existing opportunities permissible under the current framework, and discusses future options and policy considerations in a new era. Click here to read the Postal Service Revenue: Structures, Facts, and Future Possibilities white paper. How would you approach the revenue issue to make sure the Postal Service continues to provide self-funded universal service to the American people? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.
  • on Oct 3rd, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 18 comments

    When you buy your groceries, how do you pay for them? What about when you go to the gas station or neighborhood restaurant? How do you buy items online? Cash may still be king, but in everyday life, it is being eclipsed by newer digital payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and electronic transfers. These payment methods are often more convenient than carrying around lots of cash, but they are not equally available to everyone. People who don't have bank accounts or credit cards cannot access the full-range of digital currency products. One option that is available is prepaid payment cards. Prepaid cards are preloaded with funds and then can be used like a credit or debit card. They are the fastest growing form of digital currency. More and more people are receiving their pay through prepaid cards. Unfortunately, customers sometimes must pay predatory fees to redeem the cards for cash or reload them. Is this an opportunity for the Postal Service? The Postal Service has the trusted brand and a vast retail network to ensure national coverage. It has experience helping the unbanked and the underbanked. It has sold postal money orders for about 150 years. In certain areas, the Postal Service offers wire transfer service. Should the Postal Service look into upgrading its payment offerings for the digital age? A new OIG white paper Digital Currency: Opportunity for the Postal Service examines whether there is a role for the Postal Service in the world of digital payments. The paper finds that the Postal Service is well positioned to expand into new digital currency products such as prepaid cards because of its widespread network, trustworthy reputation, and longstanding experience in providing payment services. The paper also provides some suggestions for an implementation strategy. Click here to read the Digital Currency: Opportunity for the Postal Service white paper. What do you think? Are prepaid cards a good opportunity for the Postal Service? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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