• on Jan 25th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 124 comments
    How much does it cost to develop, print, ship, inventory, secure, sell, and cancel a stamp used to mail a letter?  What about the stamps that are never sold?  The Postal Service destroys billions of stamps each year because they are obsolete.  In FY 2008, the Postal Service printed 37 billion stamps, which cost $78 million to print.  In that same year, they destroyed old stamps, some of which were printed more than 10 years ago, that were valued at approximately $2.8 billion.  Those stamps were printed, shipped, counted multiple times in various inventories, and finally shipped back for destruction under secure conditions.  How much does this cost and does the Postal Service benefit from the expense?

    Are there better alternatives to stamps?  Business customers often rent postage meters and use permits for bulk mail.  Now, the advent of online postage vendors has given individual customers an alternative to stamps.  Customers that use online postage can customize their postage and incorporate approved language or pictures.

    Not everyone has access to a computer.  What can we do for people who do not have access to online postage or who simply do not want to use online postage?  One answer may be simplifying the Postal Service’s current stamp inventory.  What if all postage stamps were “Forever Stamps”?  Stamps would never become obsolete and have to be destroyed, and production costs would never eat up their contribution to overhead.  After a rate increase — now generally an annual event rather than every 3 or 4 years — there would be no 1-cent or 2-cent stamp shortages or rush to produce the next generation of denominated stamps. What about stamp collectors?  Would philatelic sales suffer if the Postal Service reduced the denominations it offered?  Commemorative Forever Stamps could be issued in limited quantities to satisfy collectors.  Some commemorative stamps could be sold locally, while others could only be ordered and shipped direct from a central location.  Forever Stamps that marked holidays or other special events such as birthdays would be very useful for people who wanted to stock up.  And what could be more appropriate for wedding invitations than “Forever Love” stamps? Do you know of a better method of postage payment, convenient and available to everybody that could be implemented? Tell us what you think. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Field Financial East directorate. Topic was revised to indicate that 37 billion stamps not $37 billion worth of stamps were printed in 2008.

  • on Jan 19th, 2010 in Labor | 48 comments

    Recently Glassdoor.com announced the winners of the second annual “Employees' Choice Awards” for Best Places to Work.

    The Top 50 were selected from more than 37,000 companies reviewed by the nearly 100,000 employees who completed a 20-question survey on Glassdoor.com in 2009. Only companies who received at least 25 votes were included on the list. The survey questions relate to employees' attitudes about:
    • Career opportunities
    • Communication
    • Compensation and benefits
    • Employee morale, recognition and feedback
    • Senior Leadership
    • Work/life balance
    • Fairness and respect

     

    Southwest came in number one with a 4.7 rating on a scale of 1 to 5. United Airlines and Gibson Guitar are at the bottom of the reviewed companies with a 1.9 rating. FedEx scored a satisfactory rating of 3.8. Neutral ratings were given to UPS (3.1) and the Postal Service (2.8).

    What are your thoughts on the current workplace environment? How can it be improved?

    Has the workplace environment in the Postal Service gotten better or worse over the last 10 years and why?

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

  • on Jan 11th, 2010 in OIG | 7 comments
    Those of us helping on the Office of Inspector General blog had so much fun last year we thought we would make the top 10 stories an annual event. We’ve provided the top 10 postal stories for 2009. Tell us about any stories we missed and add whatever comments you think appropriate. In particular, we would like to get your input on the top story, so take a minute and vote in the poll below.

    And now in reverse order . . . our top 10:

     

     

    1. Electric vehicles spark interest — The Postal Service prequalified suppliers in case it requests proposals for the electric conversion of long-life vehicles (LLVs), and a House bill was introduced that would begin the process of testing and deploying 20,000 electric-drive delivery vehicles.
    2. Sales, Sales, Sales —The Postal Service used its pricing freedom to hold a sale during the traditionally low-volume summer months.
    3. Retirement incentives fail to motivate — The Postal Service offered financial incentives for early retirements, but fewer employees took up the offer than expected.
    4. Full-service Intelligent Mail launches — Full-Service Intelligent Mail prices became available in November.
    5. Communities take note as collection boxes disappear — The news was full of stories of the decline of the familiar blue box, a part of a national-cost-saving measure.
    6. Unprecedented cost reductions are not enough — The Postal Service squeezed 115 million workhours and $6.1 billion in costs from its operations, but it was not enough to offset the effect of volume losses.
    7. Mail goes paperless — A new way of “mailing” garnered attention as services emerged that allow mailers to send electronic “mail” using physical address information.
    8. Congress grants health care prefunding relief — Congress allowed the Postal Service to reduce its contribution to the Postal Service’s retiree health fund by $4 billion this year. Without this relief, the Postal Service would have come very close to running out of cash.
    9. The Postal Service requests 5-day delivery — Postmaster General Potter requested that the Postal Service be given the authority to cut a day of delivery if necessary.
    10. Perfect storm almost swamps the Postal Service — Large mail volume losses and the continuing heavy requirements to prefund retiree health benefits nearly tipped the Postal Service into insolvency.

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

Pages