As noted in the update on Wednesday, there was a tremendous response to last week’s brainstorming exercise! As of Friday afternoon there were almost 350 comments posted -- many more than usual! If nothing else, this shows widespread and heartfelt concern for the well-being and financial viability of the Postal Service. Not only was the quantity of postings notable, so was the variety of ideas; they covered a broad spectrum, from cost-cutting possibilities to new lines of business. And many of the postings received replies, for instance Nostradamus' original posting received 13 replies, which is a testament to the thoughtfulness of everyone involved. The creativity shown by the participants makes categorizing the ideas difficult, but we’ve attempted to develop poll questions to highlight the common themes, and get your reaction as to the relative importance of these items.

[poll id=37]

While every comment received attention, some ideas stood out as particularly thought-provoking or creative. In order to gauge your reactions as to the viability and value of a sample of ideas, we’ve developed another poll question. The following ideas were submitted by Sheri, Randy, D. Traver, Move into the future, JM, and others.

[poll id=38]

This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

Comments (127)

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  • anon

    Not to mention the waste of fuel sitting idling while fingering DPS-duh. Less time on the road, fewer accidents, less likely to be around school kids and people getting home from work.I'm betting that someone is so invested in the machinery that they can't see or don't care what the effect is in practice. Same thing with the flat sorter-we saw a retro fitted LLv and every carrier in the room noted that there was no room for parcels-not an inch-now that we have invested billions in the flat sorters no one is going to modify or back down from this plan-it's someone's baby and I'm sure that someone has enough clout to go full steam ahead-no matter what the consequences are-forget the fact that we no longer get enough flats to fill the LLV's-we'll be hauling partially empty racks around town-now that's efficient.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Yeah, I never thought of that one. But it is good! As clerks we are responsible for any shortage in our accountability. If we don't follow correct procedures for check acceptance they say we are responsible personally to pay. So, when supervisors and PMs violate our contracts and the grievances result in monetary reward, make those supervisors/PM pay! They are accountable!

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Very, very funny! USPS keep on tolerating nepotism, favoritism, idiocy and stupidity. Postal managers always show contempt to good workers and protect the lazy ones. Unions the same. With this kind of working culture and the advent of new communications technology, we will not survive.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Really you need all the idea's. Need to become slimmer and trimmer, reduce supv/worker ratio, give real insentives to the VERA so people take it. And explore new area's like the banking idea, already have money orders do wire transfers and more and secure instant document transfers (fax/email) You need them ALL.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    You can always tell who's craft,and who's management.Management should realize they are on borrowed time.We're getting down to 500,000 craft employees nation wide,but still have 30,000 supervisors,29,000 postmasters,and over 10,000 headquarters.What other business model has this much overhead. First reduce management overall by 30%.Then put the rest of management on a salary.No more getting paid for every hour they work.Also make them work split shifts.They have clerk leads to handle customer stuff during the day.Supervisors only need to be on the clock from,8-12,and 3-6.Now that would save a ton of money.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Polls show now is the time the public would accept a change to NO delivery except Express on Sat/Sun. So we should cut Sat delivery by next March. This will create excess delivery employee nationwide. These employees will try to be excessed to vacant positions which are few and far between, so the next step would be layoffs under our contracts.The Whitehouse,Congress, and OMB do not want a 50,000 layoff headline to hit the newspapers so this would push OMB to offer and incentive for ELIGIBLE employees to retire. A refund of your retirement payments for a cut in anuity was done in the late 70's and would cost USPS zero. A 1 yr phase in would be needed to cover the talent drain with a 10% cap at all ofices nationwide by seniority. Option B a $25,000 option bonus would have to be paid for from a budget we don't have funding for, a payback is your money returned to you and costs USPS nothing. It would give a leaner,less costly labor force with Sat/Sun off. Why not?

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    AGAIN, ABSOLUTELY, why the "penalty". Stop penalizing employees who've already put in 30 yrs of service just because they are not yet 55 yrs. old!! It won't cost the USPS any "pay out" money at all. Just stop assessing the "penalty". We don't want $25000 dollars. We just want our full retirement in order to save the business. The USPS would be potentially saving approx. $30000 dollars a year on my salary alone if they would just stop the "PENALTY"!!

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    The obvious solution to Postal solvency is to orchestrate a 5-day delivery week in consonance with an incentivized early out. And by incentivized, I mean added service time. No one will leave with a cash-only incentive except those already way past their retirement dates. In that case, the Postal Service will actually lose money since the one's taking it are overdue to retire anyway. More than that, this weak economy will languish for at least 5-10 more years and nobody in their right mind will settle for less in times of uncertainty. If the above is enacted, no one loses their job because the junior employees will be needed to fill in the personnel positions lost and by going to a 5-day week. In conjunction with that, the Postal Service won't have to scramble to hire new employees because of the mass exodus of senior employees opting for an early out. This is a win-win situation for both the service and prospective retirees and allows the service more time to assess the feasibility of other changes to universal service, without having to employ kneejerk initiatives which may bleed more cash and ruin its (currently waning) reputation. A subordinate benefit to relieving the organization of its "old-timers," might be one in which the corporate culture of distrust and disincentivized performance, be turned around into a healthy organization rewarding performance and attitudes. Short of enacting the above, the Postal Service will struggle to find its 21st Century identity and market niche. And despite any overtures to privatize the organization, in the case of an electronic communications meltdown -- an Internet catastrophic event -- the "Plan B" Postal Service will immediately become "Plan A."

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    In total agreement. Why was the "penalty" assessed??? Give those who qualify for VERA their full annuities and it will be overall better for the service in the future. A VERA was offered, but it wasn't a true voluntary early retirement because they assessed a "penalty" for not being 55!! If you want to truly see a cost savings and reduce expenses, give those who qualify for the VERA their full annuities without "penalty" and the cost savings will be SUBSTANTIAL!!

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    I don't think it was so much an "assessed" penalty, as opposed to an organization trying to see how much it could save by offering nothing. The results were obvious. The main problem with this organization, is that it's trying to turn on a dime, adapting to a new market paradigm (no mail). Problem is, the P.O. is a monolithic entity mired in regulations and employs an antiquated methodology of managing personnel. An incentivized VERA would buy the organization the needed time to truly assess what operations can be scaled back, what real estate holdings are non mission-critical, what technological implementations will actually generate an ROI, etc. An incentivized VERA is the shortest path to short-term solvency, yet long-term planning. When you have an organization that values process over results and has a one-size-fits-all mentality, it's VERY difficult to adapt to changing environments.

    Jul 22, 2009
  • anon

    I'd gladly take added time onto my years in service, with no penalty, and leave right away. I'm fifty years old, and even if the OPM delayed my full retirement until I turned 55, in other words, I took the reduced pension for five years while the USPS got back on its feet, I'd still go.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    As I mentioned before, I think that it is important to realize that we are living in changing times. We've lost business due to the internet, so shall we continue our downward spiral, as never seen before, due to the day of technology. Attempts to cut management, or change delivery to cluster boxes on street corners are noble, but are also futile attempts to rescue an organization whose only pitfall is its slow and indecisive reaction to a changing world. We are (k)ING of sortation with our advanced machinery and experts on transporing the mail from office to office. We are second to none. As far as we've come in moving the mail out on the street, however, our delivery mechanism is outdated. We need to contract space in places where foot travel is frequent and/or heavy and/or popular and/or desirable and/or accessible and/or convenient, and deliver the mail to interior boxes. Wal-Mart, or any store that has a pharmacy is a logical, sensible choice. Mail will be available to the general public, seven days a week, not six or five, or three. The effects of the internet took us by surprise. Wal-Mart can do it without us. Offer us more competition that could be our final blow. Think about it. They offer their customers a Wal-stamp and send mail from department store to department store.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    I know technology is a great thing and it is very useful to the longevity of some companies as well as the USPS but when you have a machine that sorts letters like the DPS machine and is NEVER 100% accurate then there is a problem. I'm not looking for a perfect machine and I know there is no perfect human. For the past 2 years the Letter Carriers in my office (district)have been told to deliver any mis-sequenced DPS 1st class letters (daily). We have seen gas prices sore, our wages increase and mail volume decrease yet it is a big waste delivering a mis-sequenced 1st class letter. My opinion is either: 1. Stop making Letter Carriers deliver mis-sequenced DPS. 2. The time you spend having clerks run our DPS is the time I could case my own letters with better accuracy than a DPS machine. That means I don't waste time driving around in the afternoon deivering mis-sequenced DPS. That means it saves gas, time and our pride because when my customers have weird looks on their faces for getting mail twice in one day. Is that a good image for the USPS? Multi-million or billion dollar machines and a human is still correcting it. The customers are trying to figure why the Letter Carriers don't sort the mail in the first place? I should not be getting letters for other routes, states or countries like I have been. Let us case our own mail if you are so worried about the 1 st class bill I have to deliver when I'm done on my route. 3. Do not implement the FSS. The USPS is wasting money trying to fit the machines in buildings. The same results will happen as the DPS machines. The USPS need to start relying on the best products that they have, their employees. 4. USPS management needs to be compliant with the contract, same as the employees. I've done over 400 grievances in 3 years and have won all but 36. 5. Make managers be accountable for unnessesary grievances. When an employee loses a grievance, that employee suffers the results of that action. When management loses the grievance, what happens? Nothing. No penalty. No incentive to stop violating the contract. Simple. Saves money.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    In response to item 4-our pm has taken every opportunity to cheat on counts the last several years(this doesn't even count threats and bullying)-I'm sure this person gets a bonus for a portion of the amount that is stolen from rurals. we have a work culture that rewards cheaters and promotes a 'them vs us ' mentality. When people talk about helping the postal service I think of co-workers and can't even stand to think about helping this cheating, slacker keep getting a bonus for cuttting the budget.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    My idea is take away USPS provided cell phones from postmasters and everyone else. These people make anywhere from $80K up and I think they can provide their own phones. I can't even imagine how much money that would save.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    CSRS employees need an incentive to go. Add 5 years or even a month for each year and there will be a lot of "older" guys (and gals) leaving.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Go to NDCBU boxes on every street corner! That would save money in two ways. 1) Injury rate among carrier craft would plummet, saving the USPS BILLIONS over many years! 2) Routes could be made longer, because putting mail in a NDCBU box would be MUCH more efficient, than delivering house to house! If customers complain, tell them postage rate increases will be held to a minimum, becuase of increased productivity.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Pay employees a lump sum pay-out of their sick leave as an incentive to take the VERA. You will have many takers. Rather than attaching sick leave to their retirement this is money already committed and it want hurt the buget. Of course, this must come with no strings attached or retrictions. I think the USPS can start saving a bunch of money in a hurry. Reply ifyou are CSRS emmployee wanting a way out with incentive

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    I'll reply.......why were we assessed a "penalty"???? We don't want cash, we would take a full annuity "with no strings attached". I'm CSRS with 30 yrs. of service in and 50 yrs. old; Why was I sent two retirment packages with "penalties" attached??? If you really want the CSRS employees in similar situations as I am in, then why offer a voluntary early retirment if you're going to "penalize" our annuities??? This made no sense whatsoever.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Closing small offices would be more of a hassle than it is worth. You would be spending more money in fighting the citizens than the money you would lose in operations. A better option would be to diversify the small office operation, such as having more of them do passports. When I worked in a level 21 office, we had more passport appointments than we could handle. That work could have easily been handed off to a smaller office. Another good option would be to team up with other government agencies to share work. It would save the other agencies money, and it could help to small PO's turn a profit. Think of them as mini government centers. Finally, and I keep saying this, give customers a free PO Box in lieu of rural delivery. This is a very easy way to save millions.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Cut managment we do not need area vice presidents,presidents,there is just way too much middle to upper managment and from what im reading potter and his top people are still making bonuses. ALso nobody else gets hired. Make walking routes curbside when someone retires so that no new position can be made. Keep what people do have a job employeed, rent out the side of postal trucks to advertising.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    First, USPS needs to cut down on the redundant management positions. Second, USPS needs to go to an evaluated delivery pay system for City Carriers (Way too much OT being paid out). Third, USPS needs to train management to follow the Union Contracts. USPS pays out way too much money for work that was never performed in settlements. Fourth, Contracts need to be renegotiated. The 8 hour guarantee needs to go. Too many employees sitting around with no work. Employees should pay the same amount as other Feds for health benefits. Finally, offer a VERA with some kind of incentive to cut down the ranks. The USPS does not need to lay anyone off. There is more than enough work for everyone. We just need to be able to move people to where the work is.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    What do postmasters in big offices do anyways? There should be a detailed itenerary mailed to us carriers in the moring from ONE manager in the district that we answer to, not two hundred, which record every petty thing that ammount to nothing but wasted paper and payroll. That kind of nonsense is killing the postal service, not effiency of carriers. Wake up USPS, you are doing this to yourselves because you are too bloated. Streamline managementand we will be bleeding green!

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    One of the ways to make money would be to have tracking of a package or letter that is sent first class or priority overseas.Many of our customers want this.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    1) Do away with the no layoff clause. 2) Have a single union which would represent the UNIVERSAL Postal Worker (MH/Clerk/Carrier/Salesperson/etc.) 3) Create a base pay system and incentive plan for continued exceptional performance. 3) If items 1,2 & 3 are in place then there will be no need to have as many layers of management so both the supervior and admin staffs could be greatly reduced. Additional Items: - Close small post offices that do not generate enough revenue to support the salary, rent, utilities and supplies spent on having a local Postmaster - Focus more efforts on generating NEW revenue

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    The first question regarding the best choice to improve the po should have the option to choose "all of the above". If you could pick the order of preference of nthe answers, I would pick eliminate Saturday. Yes, it would cost a lot of jobs, but we have too many people, craft and management. We could lose some business, but if done correctly, not too much. Bring in a certain amount of staff to deliver express mail and priority mail parcels. Our office of 70 routes would need about 6 people to do that, with no supervisor, as it is on Sunday. Some carriers lost to the 5 day delivery could be kept on as PTFs to do this and fill in during the week. We will not lose letter or flat mail to other companys, but we nned to protect the other stuff. Before any of us were born, the PO was deliverying mail 7 days a week. No one seems to miss that. Times change. For some reason the po and the unions do not ever change with them. It is almost too late for us to recover. Implement ALL the options in the first question and we may be able to stay afloat

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    You hear the Postal Service has no money for incentive to retire - do what the state Of New York did, give 1 month for every year of service as an incentive. Push out the CSRS employee with an encentive, so the Postal Service can set up a less costly retiement system for the service in the future. Don't wait till tomorrow do it today

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    put all the mailboxes back on the corners. keep our visibility. thats what keeps us in business. we are everywhere. keep it that way.. thats what i hear from my customers at the window. cut management big time. keep six day delivery.. if we dont our competitors will.. and its another nail..in the coffin..

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    How about getting rid of double Sunday Premium. Employees that come in for Monday but start at 23:00 on Sunday get a full day of Sunday Premium. Actually just get rid of Sunday Premium all together and save. And as long as we are on extra pay might as well drop night differential pay. It cost Postal Service a lot of money on fuel. There are electric cars that run well on America roads. Or converting our postal vans to run on electricty.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    there is a need to get rid of some position craft and management example we have 4 VOMA positions and they check oil and do small tags to help VMF out carriers are gone to the street 2 hours after they start so 6 hours of doing nothing yet they want to cut routes and carrier positions these jobs use to be part time some how they became full time makes you wonder what other jobs are like this at my house when moneys tight you cut the things that just aint that important until you are out of the red

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Maybe the best thing for The Postal Service is for employees to care for their own jobs and not worry about what the other employees are doing. There is always a seniority and craft jealousy. For instance....The carrier who claims VOMA's do noothing for 6 hours a day ! Hmmmm....That same carrier is probably sitting on his rectum on the street hiding somewhere until it is time to return to the office. (Most likely he/she has the lightest route in the office) He/She is worried about VOMA's while taking a 2 hour lunch break. So funny ! So very, very, funny ! Hopefully, he is taking spelling and grammar lessons during that 2 hour lunch !

    Mar 08, 2011
  • anon

    Forcing management to follow the contract and cut down on some monetary grievance wins would save a lot. Or to even hold them accountable for the big money grievances WILL save the Postal Service lots of money. Our mid size local has won almost $2 million in the last year and a half due to bad management and the refusal to bargain in good faith.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    I agree, hold those supervisors and upper management accountable for every greivance lost which cost the Postal Service. Handle all greivances at the lowest level without upper management intervention. This will undoubtedly create a better work environment since the employees Supervisors know the employees best and know what their problems are. Hold the Supervisor accountable for failures to comply.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Institute productivity standards for the clerks and carriers and see how much more mail gets processed and delivered with fewer workhours. The company would save billions.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Isn't that what all of the micromanaging is for that we have already?

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    OK Let Supervisors supervise, Managers manage and PM's be resonsible for their office. No more calling District, Area or Headquarters in DC to ask if they can buy rubber bands! RIF District, Area and 40 or so VPs. I believe this will cover our revenue shortfall. OIG please investigate the redundant levels of upper management.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    I would have to agree get rid of Areas,Districts and Headquartes since they are all not moving mail but creating geivances through redundant paperwork and very stupid ideas. Along with their staffs and a great deal of money can and will be saved.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Why not rent out the sides of the 300,000 plus postal vehicles for advertisement? I think epsecially small businesses would jump on the chance to reach the local economy! The space could be small or large and would open up a whole new divison for the PO, advertisement, graphic design, printing,etc... Ive noticed that some cities do this with the local bus transportation system. It's worth a look, but only if the PO is serious about surviving!

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Why not rent out the sides of the 300,000 plus postal vehicles for advertisement? I think epsecially small businesses would jump on the chance to reach the local economy! The space could be small or large and would open up a whole new divison for the PO, advertisement, graphic design, printing,etc... Ive noticed that some cities do this with the local bus transportation system. It's worth a look, but only if the PO is serious about surviving!

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    We have cut window service and done away with vending machines. Now people not only have to endure long lines but also have to listen to someone try to upsell them to express. Do away with the MYSTERY SHOPPER program and get our customers in and out as efficiently as possible.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Exactly. Biggest turn off for customers is to hear about all the products and options that they did NOT COME TO BUY. Sell them their stamps, put postage on their packages, take their hold orders and shut the heck up!

    Sep 01, 2009
  • anon

    Do away with the "mailhandler/Clerk" distinction and make us all general postal employees. At the plant where I work we are usually short in the mailhandlers. This makes clerks idle while waiting on mailhandlers. Some days mail sits entire shifts because there's no one to prep it, while clerks "look" busy. Eliminating the distinction would enable the WISE use of all employees on the clock by having us able to do WHATEVER work needs to be done at the time without"crossing crafts".WE EITHER MAKE CHANGES THAT PRODUCE OR WE ALL GO DOWN! WAKE UP FOLKS!!!

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    That 's what I say ! If the Union does NOT like that ......... let them find themselves another job......outside the USPS.

    Sep 06, 2009
  • anon

    Cut Saturday delivery. That would cut out ALOT of money being paid to RCA's and TE's.Cut out the Sunday premium pay.Cut out ALL work on holidays. Alot of people work the holiday AND get holiday pay. Need revenue? Start looking at the "little" things like this.Across the board, this stuff adds up quick.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Okay if we get rid of the sat. deliver you better prey like hell to get someone to cover your route. No RCA or te are going to stick around hoping and preying for your vaction once a year or the day your too sick to report.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    IF YOU INHANCE INCENTIVES TO RETIRE,YOU WILL HAVE ALOT OF ROOM TO MAKE MANY MORE CHANGES,I'M WAITING FOR MORE INCENTIVES AND IM OUT OF HERE...

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Eliminate all walking or curbside delivery and convert to CBU delivery. The intial cost would be high, but it would pay itself off in 1 to 2 years and from then on would save the post office billions of dollars....

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    Hey manager, why not just require all customers to rent a PO box? That way you could eliminate ALL delivery services, and go back to calling us the US Post Office Department since there wold be no need for service. You could also change your box up time to 5PM in order to eliminate more distribution clerks. One clerk for every 2000 boxes, and one supervisor for each 100 boxes. Delivery services are not the problem, it is an overabundance of supervisory positions.

    Jul 20, 2009
  • anon

    The window clerks at our office have already been instructed to start asking window customers if they would be interested in a P.O. Box.

    Jul 21, 2009
  • anon

    Actually, making customers rent PO Boxes in lieu of rural delivery would save millions. Reinstate the old half mile rule where if you are within a certain distance of an office, you would be required to get a no fee PO Box. There would be roughly a $130 savings per delivery point. It's not like they would travel much farther than many people with CBUs, their mail would be safe, and it would increase the productivity of the level 11/13 offices. I wish that they would give this some serious consideration. Either that or start charging for delivery, which in any other business would be considered the "premium service".

    Jul 20, 2009

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