• on Oct 19th, 2009 in OIG | 10 comments
    Pushing the Envelope officially launched on October 14 last year. Since that time, the blog has posted more than 49 topics including this one and more than 1,700 comments. Some topics have been more popular than others, and those covering issues of interest to Postal Service employees have generally received the most attention. For example, the following topics were the top five in terms of page views.
    1. 1. The OIG Wants to Know How You Feel about Sick Leave
    2. 2. Silly Rules
    3. 3. Nationwide Wage Uniformity
    4. 4. Brainstorm Ideas to Help the Postal Service
    5. 5. Brainstorm Ideas Part 2

    But many of the less popular topics have also generated valuable debate about the Postal Service, its operations, and the postal industry in general. The OIG has even used reader comments and the results of blog polls in reports (for example, see Retail Technology Strategy — Automated Postal Centers and Financial Reporting Information Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

    As we start our second year, the contributors and editors to Pushing the Envelope would like to hear more from you on what you want from the OIG’s blog. What do you like about the blog? What can we improve? What topics would you like to see? Let us know what you think.

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

  • on Oct 13th, 2009 in Strategy & Public Policy | 15 comments
    When the topic of competition for the Postal Service comes up in casual conversation, the discussion usually involves FedEx or UPS. However, packages are a relatively small part of the Postal Service’s business. Certainly, these firms are direct competitors, but are there other competitors for Postal Service business? What alternatives compete with each of the various Postal products? What, if anything, can the Postal Service do to better compete in each product line? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Oct 5th, 2009 in Pricing & Rates | 23 comments
    Stamp prices are traditionally in whole cent increments. That means it is difficult to target a particular percentage increase. For instance, a one-cent increase on the 42-cent stamp would have been 2.4 percent; while the two-cent increase was 4.8 percent.

    Postal price increases are now limited by an inflation-based “cap” for each class of mail, and in First-Class Mail, the price of a stamp is a major component of the average revenue per piece for First-Class Mail. As such, the price change for the “stamp” plays a large role in the calculation of the average for the class. Other prices in First-Class Mail have to be set to bring the average back to the cap. This can make it difficult to meet many of the other pricing objectives in the class such as setting workshare discounts equal to the cost savings. It might be easier to meet the objectives if the stamp price were in a smaller increment.

    In any event, how important is it that the stamp’s price is in whole-cent increments?

    Since stamps are generally purchased in booklets or coils does it matter whether the individual price is rounded to a penny? Could increments larger than a penny be accommodated in the price cap environment? What other issues should be considered regarding the stamp price?

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

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