As we start a new year, those of us helping on the Office of Inspector General blog thought it would be fun to reflect on the past year and pick our top 10 list of postal stories from 2008. We would like to hear your views. Take a look at the list and tell us what you like or don’t like. Tell us about any stories we missed and add whatever comments you think appropriate. In particular, we would like to know your pick of the top postal story for 2008, so take a minute and vote for the most important story by participating in the poll below.
And now in reverse order . . . our top 10:
- Postal Service flexes pricing muscles — The Postal Service used its pricing flexibility under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) to offer new discounts for competitive products.
- Periodicals go web-only — Major publications such as PC World and The Christian Science Monitor decided to drop print editions in favor of electronic versions.
- PAEA-mandated reports hit the street — A flood of reports intended to lay the groundwork for the Postal Service’s future regulatory environment were released by the Federal Trade Commission, Treasury, Postal Regulatory Commission, Postal Service, and others.
- Voting by mail takes off — Prior to the 2008 election, it was anticipated that more than 31 million people would vote by mail, double the number in 2000.
- Postal Service announces VERA (Voluntary Early Retirement Authority) and a hiring freeze — In response to lowered revenues, the Postal Service took action to downsize and lower costs.
- Prefunding retiree health benefits — Anticipating large losses, the Postal Service, its Board of Governors, and other stakeholders urged Congress to allow the Postal Service to start paying current retiree health benefits from its dedicated retiree health fund now rather than in 2017.
- Gas price swings — The price of fuel, a major expense for the Postal Service, rose to record highs and then dramatically fell back.
- Greening of the mail — The Postal Service and mailing industry took steps to respond to concerns about mail’s environmental impact.
- DHL leaves the U.S. market — To stem large losses, DHL abandoned its effort to become a competitor for U.S. domestic parcel shipments.
- Postal Service mail volume declines — The weakening economy led to a decline in mail volume.