• on Dec 5th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 3 comments
    The U.S. Postal Service owns or leases more than 33,000 facilities with approximately 284 million interior square feet (SF). These facilities are in virtually every community throughout the country and range in size from 55 SF to 32 acres under one roof. We visited 717 of these facilities as part of 10 facility optimization audits and identified over 21 million excess SF of space. During our subsequent national facility optimization audit, we statistically projected that the Postal Service has about 67 million SF of excess space nationwide. In addition to an abundance of space, recent audits have disclosed that there are unmanned or underused windows in post offices around the nation, as well as more workhours at retail facilities than needed based on fiscal year 2011 workloads. The solution most often suggested for dealing with these excess resources is to consolidate and close facilities. In fact, the Postal Service is in the process of identifying both retail and mail processing facilities for closure or consolidation. While closures and consolidations can reduce the supply of these excess resources, there may also be opportunities to use this excess capacity to expand the services provided in local communities through partnerships with federal, state, and local governments or with private companies. Government services could be provided at post offices through kiosks or by training Postal Service employees to provide these services. The Postal Service could also offer excess window space to government agencies where their employees could assist customers. Another possibility would be for the Postal Service to partner with private sector companies to provide non-postal services. These companies could offer services ranging from fax and photocopying to banking or other financial services. These services could also include selling commercial products at retail facilities or providing warehousing and order fulfillment services at larger facilities. What do you think? What services would you like offered at Postal Service facilities? Are there any other potential uses for these facilities? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. This blog is hosted by the OIG's Audit Engineering Team.
  • on Nov 14th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 28 comments
    Out of 23 posts in industrialized countries, the U.S. Postal Service is one of the few remaining posts not offering an eMailbox solution to its citizens. And while there are private sector technology industry standouts in the U.S. that have developed widely popular e-mail and secure storage services, their business models sacrifice consumer privacy in the interest of ad-based revenue generation. In an increasingly digital world, it may make sense for the Postal Service to offer eMailbox services in addition to traditional delivery. A consumer would also be able to sign up for an accompanying highly secure data storage area service called the eLockbox, which would provide added security for the archiving of important legal and personal documents with anytime, anywhere secure access. Today many electronic documents, especially financial records, reside primarily on the banks or billers Web site and not with the consumer. The Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center’s new paper eMailbox and eLockbox: Opportunities for the Postal Service (Report Number RARC-WP-12-001) explores these concepts. This white paper is the fourth paper in the Digital series, and presents a case for offering an eMailbox and eLockbox. Some of the paper’s findings include: 1.As communication channels become increasingly consumer-centric, the eMailbox and eLockbox would empower individuals to transition to full electronic delivery at their own pace. 2.The linking of one’s physical identity and address to the eMailbox address will provide high identity assurance necessary for transactions, which require privacy, confidentiality, authentication and non-repudiation such as for legal and financial correspondence. 3.The Postal Service, offers protection from theft, interference, fraud and forgery under federal law, utilizing two law enforcement organizations (the Office of Inspector General and the Inspection Service). 4.Advertising mail would only be allowed from entities registered with the Postal eMailbox system and with the consent of the receiver. Together, the concept of the eMailbox and eLockbox services reflects a natural extension of the Postal Service’s role in the physical world as the trusted custodian of the nation’s address management system. The product provides a digital service linking American households and businesses in a trusted and verifiable way, while empowering consumers to determine the pace and extent of the service’s use. This product suite should be further developed as the organization implements new digital services. What do you think? Would you use a Postal eMailbox? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.
  • on Sep 26th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 9 comments
    The Postal Service has “coupled” its retail and delivery operations, both managerially and physically, since delivery services were first established almost 150 years ago. Historical patterns, or the needs for delivery service efficiencies, primarily determined the location of physical facilities, which typically house both delivery and retail operations. Demands for postal retail services are changing both geographically and demographically as consumers age and population centers shift. Our Risk Analysis Research Center studied the strategic concept of “decoupling” the Postal Service’s delivery and retail operations, examining both the physical and managerial functions. The results appear in the recently released whitepaper titled Retail and Delivery: Decoupling Could Improve Service and Lower Costs. The white paper draws upon the insights of key stakeholders, private sector delivery companies within the United States, foreign postal operators, and expert business consultants. The study found that selective decoupling of retail and delivery operations, mostly outside of rural areas, could result in lower costs, increased revenue, and better service that is more responsive to changing market conditions and diverse customer needs. The paper’s key findings include:
    • A decoupling strategy affords the Postal Service more flexibility to respond to changing customer needs for retail service.
    • The Postal Service too often ignores retail functions, which receive secondary managerial attention when competing with delivery for resources and clerk time.
    • Decoupling could help transform both retail and delivery into separate best-practices driven, strategic business units.
    • Major private-sector delivery companies in the United States as well as foreign posts previously separated their retail and delivery functions with each having its own distinct skills, training, and performance measures.
    Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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