• on Oct 18th, 2010 in OIG | 20 comments
    Have you ever wanted to contribute to or help develop the issues within an OIG audit? Or have you read an audit report and thought ‘I wish I had the opportunity to share my perspective and additional information with the auditors’? With the addition of the Audit Projects section to our website, now you can provide feedback while the audit is being conducted. The Audit Projects section allows you to review the overview of an audit, contribute information, and send documents during this crucial planning phase. In essence, you become an audit team member for the project! During this planning phase, the audit team learns about the subject, collects a broad range of data, contacts key experts and stakeholders, and develops the specific objectives of the audit. This is the phase when the audit team decides on the breadth and depth of the topic in the report. Input from stakeholders like you helps to ensure the audit report provides useful and relevant data and analyses, and contains relevant and realistic recommendations. To review our current audits in progress, go to our Audit Project Pages and select an audit. There you will find the overview of the audit, along with any current comments. If you would like to know when new audit projects begin, follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook. How do you feel about the OIG allowing the public to comment on audits? Please share your thoughts below and we invite you to visit the Audit Projects section of our website and comment on individual audit projects. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Field Financial-East audit team.
  • on Oct 11th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 7 comments
    PostalOne!® is a web-based system designed to facilitate business mail processing and allows the Postal Service to electronically collaborate with business mail customers. It is also used to streamline the mail acceptance and postage payment process. Mailers can either submit a paper postage statement (a summary of items mailed showing postage) or use one of three electronic formats. •Mail.dat® •Mail.XML •Postal Statement Wizard (PSW). Mailers may qualify for Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) discounts when they submit postage statements electronically using Mail.dat or Mail.XML. The Mail.XML submission method supports near real time validation of mailing data as well as compatibility with current ecommerce technology. Mailers can also enter mailing information, such as type and quantity of items mailed into the PostalOne! system over the Internet using Postal Statement Wizard. Both Mail.dat and Mail.XML submissions have increased in recent years. In June 2010, over half of all postage statements were submitted electronically, and of those, 89% were submitted using Mail.dat. That’s a sharp contrast from the beginning of the fiscal year, when 78% of business mail postage statements were submitted in hardcopy format. While electronic postage statement processing is a promising tool for making the Postal Service more efficient, it still faces issues: Does the cost of mailer software development and upgrade offset IMb discounts? Are rejected electronic postage statement files processed timely? Does it help the Postal Service to collect all its revenue? What do you think of businesses submitting and postal employees accepting business mail postage statements electronically? Is electronic postage statement submission a boon or a bust? More information on this project can be found on our Audit Projects page. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Cost, Revenue & Rates audit team.
  • on Oct 4th, 2010 in Strategy & Public Policy | 26 comments
    On September 30th, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) turned down the request by the Postal Service for an exigent price increase averaging 5.6 percent across all market-dominant products, such as First-Class Mail and Periodicals. Although current law cape increases in these products to the inflation rate, the PRC can consider rate increases beyond the cap if the Postal Service has been affected by “extraordinary or exceptional circumstances.” In this decision, the PRC agreed with the Postal Service’s contention that the economic recession was an exceptional circumstance, but it ruled that the Postal Service did not show how the exigent rate request was due to the recession. The ruling also tied cash flow problems the Postal Service currently faces to current laws that require prefunding of retiree health benefits. An OIG study found that the Postal Service has been overcharged $75 billion in its funding of pension liabilities, an amount that could be used to fund current and future retiree health benefits. In a statement addressing the PRC’s decision, Postmaster General Jack Potter expressed disappointment. However, he said that the PRC’s acknowledgement of the large financial risk caused by the prefunding payments for retiree health benefits was encouraging. The statement notes that the Postal Service is still reviewing the PRC’s decision and determining its course of action, but it lists areas for legislative relief to keep the Postal Service viable. October 1st was the start of the new fiscal year for the Postal Service. As the Postal Service enters 2011, what do you think its next step should be?

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