• on Sep 21st, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 3 comments
    In a time when the Postal Service has suffered declines in volume and revenue across many categories, it has turned to the international market. For example, it has seized opportunities, including with China, to increase its overall market share in package and express business. But the Postal Service has to maintain an “international” infrastructure in order to efficiently receive and dispatch this mail flow. International Service Centers (ISCs) in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco distribute and dispatch international mail. International Airmail Records Units are located within the ISCs which are part of the International Network Operation. These units validate mail records before transmitting information to the International Accounting Branch in St. Louis for billing foreign postal administrations. Currently, the records units are located in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and Honolulu. In recent years, workload in Miami and Chicago were redistributed to other locations. Our office previously reported the records units operated in an obsolete, inefficient, and manual work environment resulting in the use of unnecessary work hours. Specifically, we found that these units supported more than 2 million hard copy records. Since then, the Postal Service has improved efficiency by implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies to streamline processes and continues efforts to transition to a paperless environment. What additional opportunities exist to strengthen operations at International Service Centers and International Airmail Records Units to improve efficiencies and protect international revenues? For example, are there additional opportunities for consolidation? Are there additional steps the Postal Service can take to automate its processes and fully transition to a paperless environment? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Financial Reporting Directorate.
  • 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.
  • on Sep 12th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 12 comments
    Despite financial challenges resulting from declining mail volumes and current economic conditions, the Postal Service is continually driving efficiency by making better use of space, staffing, equipment, and transportation in processing mail. One key element of improving efficiency is consolidating mail processing operations, which is an ongoing effort. Since fiscal year 2009, the Postal Service has completed 47 consolidations and has an additional 107 consolidations in progress for proposed savings of approximately $255 million. How can further efficiencies be gained in mail processing? One idea may be to redesign workroom floor layouts to improve mail flow and eliminate redundancy or inefficient mail flow routes. This effort could also lead to work hour savings and efficiencies in staffing, staging, and dispatching the mail. Another idea may be to standardize mail processing equipment based on the volume of mail processed at each plant. Are these viable options for further improving mail processing efficiencies? What are some other ways the Postal Service can standardize mail processing operations to improve efficiency and improve the bottom line? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Network Processing team.

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