• on Jul 20th, 2015 in Products & Services | 2 comments

    Elvis is back in the building! Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service previewed the new Elvis Presley stamp that will be released in August as part of the popular music icons series of commemorative stamps that include the likes of Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. 

    As the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. And his enormous star power certainly carried over to his stamp. Elvis mania helped make the original Elvis stamp, issued in 1993, the most popular commemorative stamp of all time, according to the National Postal Museum. 

    Given that history, will the new stamp featuring a 1955 photograph of the King be another top seller?

    Elvis isn’t the only celestial body making postage stamp news this month. Also getting attention is the 1991 Pluto stamp, which scientists affixed to NASA’s New Horizons probe that just made contact with the dwarf planet. According to a recent Washington Post blog, when the stamp was designed as part of a planetary set, Pluto was the only planet that lacked a robotic companion – no spacecraft had ever been sent to explore it. So there was no American robot to show off in the stamp illustration like for the other planets. Instead, the words “Pluto, not yet explored” were put on the stamp. Some scientists said they saw this as a sort of “call to arms” to explore Pluto. 

    Now that Pluto is getting its day in the sun, so to speak, the Pluto stamp is too – even if its words are no longer true. A few years ago, the New Horizons team petitioned the Postal Service for a new stamp but there’s no word on whether that will happen.

    Stamps hold a unique place in American culture, which may be why so many people feel strongly about what should or shouldn’t be on them. Our previous blog on the Harry Potter stamp drew a record number of comments. The stamp was controversial because, for one reason, the subject matter – a British wizard created by a British novelist – wasn’t strictly American.

    Well, Elvis and the U.S. space program are as American as apple pie. So their stamps are not likely to be nearly as controversial. Still, here’s your chance to weigh in with your favorite stamp and what others you might like to see.   

  • on Jun 8th, 2015 in OIG | 1 comment

    Sometimes it can be confusing to keep track of who does what in this postal world. The U.S. Postal Service has a wide range of stakeholders, including a few entities with oversight responsibilities. We, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), are one of those entities.

    The OIG, an independent agency within the Postal Service, maintains the integrity and accountability of America’s postal service, its revenue and assets, and its employees. Our mission is to help maintain confidence in the postal system and improve the Postal Service’s bottom line through independent audits, investigations, and research. Audits of postal programs and operations help to determine whether they are efficient and cost effective. Investigations help prevent and detect fraud, theft, and misconduct, and deter postal crimes. The OIG also conducts research to keep Postal Service Governors, Congress, Postal Service management, and other stakeholders informed of challenges and opportunities.

    Every 6 months, as required by Congress, we publish a report of our work and activities for that period. We recently published our spring Semiannual Report to Congress, or the SARC as we affectionately call it. Our efforts focused on identifying ways to make the Postal Service more efficient, reduce its strategic and financial risk, and lower its cost of doing business. Among the reports featured in this semiannual report are audits on revenue protection and Sunday delivery of parcels; a management advisory on city carrier compensation costs; and white papers on a wide range of topics, including the Postal Service’s universal service obligation.

    During this period, we issued 74 audit reports, management advisories, and white papers. We completed 1,955 investigations that led to 370 arrests and nearly $1.4 billion in fines, restitutions, and recoveries, $10.7 million of which was turned over to the Postal Service.

    The report also carries extensive appendices chronicling our work in detail. We encourage you to review the report and get to know us better. We welcome your input as well.

  • on Dec 22nd, 2014 in OIG | 1 comment

     

    Pushing the Envelope wishes our readers a joyful holiday season and a prosperous new year. We will take a break this week, but we encourage you to read over the past year’s blogs and let us know what you think on any of the wide range of topics we covered in 2014. We post comments as they come in, even if you comment on a blog that ran years ago.

    On January 5 we will share our annual list of the Top 10 Postal Stories of the Year – one of our most popular blogs. As always, we look forward to your comments and insights. 

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