• on Sep 1st, 2014 in Delivery & Collection | 6 comments

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) is going back to the mail, bucking the digital trend it embraced just 3 years ago. This month, SSA will again start mailing paper benefit statements to people at 5-year intervals.

    In 2011, under budget pressure, SSA stopped mailing paper statements that provide an estimate of future Social Security earnings. The effort certainly saved money, about $70 million a year. But only about 11 million people – or just 6 percent of all workers – registered online to view their statements. This low participation heightened criticism that people weren’t getting valuable reminders of what they can expect to get back in the future from payroll taxes.

    Advocacy groups for older Americans and the paper industry pressured the agency to resume mailing paper statements. They noted that millions of Americans don’t have Internet access and thus have no way to verify the accuracy of their Social Security benefits or to plan for retirement.

    If you are one of the 11 million who registered to view your statement online, you won’t get a paper statement mailed to you. But everyone else will get a mailed statement when they are ages 25, 30, 35, 40 and so on.

    SSA’s return to hard-copy statements suggests that some types of communication still need to be mailed. Do you agree? Or, as broadband expands, can most communications eventually move online for convenience and cost savings? What types of statements do you prefer to receive by mail? Are there statements you prefer to get online? 

  • on Apr 19th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 14 comments
    Although the digital option has grown as a channel for Americans to communicate, purchase, and store personal information, there are drawbacks that leave a significant portion of the population underserved. To meet the population’s needs and “bind the nation together” in a digital world, the Postal Service must modernize its role. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center has completed Part 2 of a series on the Postal Service’s role in the digital age. Building on the first white paper which explored the facts and trends impacting communications, The Postal Service Role in the Digital Age – Part 2: Expanding the Postal Platform, presents a strategic positioning framed by three guiding principles: •Promoting solutions for the communications problems of the digital age •Using the core competencies and assets of the Postal Service •Considering the policy implications of the strategy based on the current legal and regulatory environment Using an “eMailbox” that links a physical address to an electronic mailbox for every citizen and business, the Postal Service could build a digital platform that supports communications and commerce for postal, governmental, and commercial applications. The paper provides six additional initial applications for consideration, including: •An eGovernment application that promotes the expansion of government services throughout the postal platform and uses the eMailbox to send and receive secure and official communication with federal agencies. •Tools for identity validation, privacy protection, and transaction security that allow users to verify the individuals and businesses they are communicating with, the safety of their personal information, and security of their purchases and financial transactions. •Hybrid and reverse hybrid mail that allow senders and receivers to convert digital documents to physical and physical documents to digital. •Enhancing services for the shipping and delivery of secure online purchases through flexible pick-up and delivery options, expanded payment choices, and a cost calculation that includes all charges and fees for purchases (even international) at the time of sale. •Digital concierge services that use the eMailbox to integrate an individual’s physical and digital communications in a single place. These services act as a type of secure “lock box” and help manage the “information overflow,” providing quick access to important communications and other personal documents (such as medical records and wills). •Develop a network to buy and redeem cash and digital currency at Post Office™ locations and online. To learn more about the strategy and specific areas the Postal Service should consider, click here to read the paper. Do you think the Postal Service has a role in the digital age? Would you use any of these applications? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).