• on Jun 29th, 2009 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 24 comments
    If you’re reading this blog, you likely have an interest in the Postal Service and its financial welfare. How can the Postal Service provide you and other stakeholders with the most appropriate financial information? When the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (the Act) was enacted on December 20, 2006, it made significant changes to the Postal Service’s financial reporting responsibilities and governance. Although the Postal Service is not subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Act required the Postal Service to file with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a number of financial reports containing information prescribed by the SEC (i.e., information contained on SEC Forms 10-Q, 10-K, and 8-K). The Act also specifically required the Postal Service to report certain financial information concerning pension and postretirement health obligations in its SEC-type 10-K annual report based on data provided by the Office of Personnel Management. In addition, the PRC recently issued a Notice of Final Rule Prescribing Form and Content of Periodic Reports dated April 16, 2009, requiring the Postal Service to provide an annual Integrated Financial Plan, a Monthly Summary Financial Report, a monthly National Consolidated Trial Balance, and a monthly Revenue and Expense Summary. Why do you believe that each of the selected reports/documents is required for appropriate public disclosure? (Please explain in the comments below.) Why do you believe that those reports/documents not selected are inappropriate for public disclosure? (Please explain in the comments below.) This topic is hosted by the OIG's Financial Reporting directorate.
  • on Jun 22nd, 2009 in Labor | 14 comments
    It takes a lot of digging to find a positive Hollywood portrayal of postal employees. From Cheers’ Cliff Clavin to Seinfeld’s Newman, TV and the movies have not always portrayed postal employees in the most favorable light. Even Mr. Rogers’ postman sidekick, Mr. McFeeley, was seldom seen actually delivering any mail. “Going postal” was coined and seemed to be a recurring Hollywood theme in the 1990’s, when the movie mills cranked out “Jingle All The Way,” with Sinbad playing a crazed letter carrier, and “Postal Worker”, which portrayed the entire agency as a simmering pot of twisted individuals. And who can forget, “Zarkorr! The Invader,” the Godzilla rip-off, where a Newark postal worker was tasked with fighting this monster — almost as bad as facing a full set of circs (flyers) on a Tuesday after a Monday holiday. What’s at stake? If he fails, the world will be destroyed. There are exceptions. The mail itself is often treated affectionately. The happy ending to Miracle on 34th Street (1947) hinges on the delivery of letters to Santa. In The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan work side by side but fall in love through the mail. The Postal Inspectors have also had a good run of positive films, starting in 1936 with Postal Inspector, featuring Bela Lugosi (yes, the same one who starred as Dracula), Appointment with Danger in 1951, and the more recent Showtime Inspectors movies with Lou Gossett and Jonathan Silverman.
    picture of Cliff from Cheers

    Unfortunately, postal employees on the big and small screen are most often portrayed as the Rodney Dangerfield types. No respect. Their heroic deeds of saving a life, or just doing their jobs without fanfare, are rarely aired. The majority of postal employees are dedicated, hard-working individuals. So how did this negative stereotype start? Why do you think postal employees get the short shrift on heroic roles? And what can be done to turn Hollywood around and point them in the right direction?

    This topic is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Jun 15th, 2009 in Strategy & Public Policy | 30 comments
    The Postal Service has asked suppliers to cooperate in efforts to reduce contract costs in light of the current financial crisis by identifying scope reductions, process improvements, and price reduction opportunities. In his March 25, 2009 Statement before the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Postmaster General John E. Potter stated:

    The Postal Service, with a physical presence in communities from coast to coast, including 37,000 facilities, spends almost $15 billion on supplies and services each year, from air transportation to building rental, from motor vehicles to computer systems, from processing equipment to Priority Mail envelopes in our lobbies. We are working to renegotiate contracts with our suppliers to reflect our reduced needs and to obtain even better value for each dollar we spend. Across the organization we are also constraining spending in every area possible.

    With the economy in a slump, many suppliers may be equally suffering financially. Will this work for or against the Postal Service’s contract renegotiation initiative? Some suppliers may be unwilling to renegotiate contracts because they cannot afford the reductions. Others may be motivated to renegotiate, reasoning that some business is better than no business.

    What do you think?

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

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