The Postal Service is one of America’s great institutions. It connects 150 million households and businesses and is the bedrock infrastructure of the American economy and society. Yet the Postal Service faces powerful and unpredictable forces. These forces – the economic downturn, the Digital Age, globalization, and statutory and regulatory demands – are fundamentally changing its outlook for the future. Actions are needed by postal management and Congress to assure that all Americans have universal access and the opportunity to take part in the emerging new world. But, what are those actions?

The OIG is pleased to announce that, beginning in March, we will host a series of five week-long blogs discussing the elements of a postal solution. The five elements will ask questions on the Postal Service’s mission, infrastructure, role in the Digital Age, and federal mandates. We will invite guest commentators with a wide range of views inside and outside the postal community to contribute to the series.

On the Monday of each week, the OIG will introduce the element of a postal solution and three guest commentators. On the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, one guest commentator will contribute an opening post. During the week’s exchange, the guest commentators will submit comments and replies. On the Friday, the OIG will summarize and conclude the discussion. Of course, we invite your comments on each topic at any time.

The Five Elements of a Postal Solution

March 5 – March 9: Should the Postal Service be a competitive business, an enabling infrastructure, or something in–between?

March 12 – March 16: What would an optimized Postal Service infrastructure look like in the 21st century and beyond?

March 19 – March 23: What opportunities exist for the Postal Service to integrate its traditional role in the digital world?

March 26 – March 30: How should Postal Service pricing be redefined in support of a lean and simple national infrastructure with a right-sized workforce in the 21st century and beyond?

April 2 – April 6: What should be done about the overfunding, overpayment, and other unfunded federal mandates?

Scheduled Guest Contributors

John Callan, Managing Director, Ursa Major Associates, LLC
James Campbell, Attorney and Consultant
Jeff Colvin, Director Economist, OIG
Dan Combs, CEO, eCitizen Foundation
Steve Hutkins, Editor and Administrator, Save the Post Office
Richard Kielbowicz, Associate Professor, Communication Networks
Roger Kodat, former Official, Department of the Treasury
Jessica Lowrance, Executive Vice President, Association for Postal Commerce
John Payne, CEO, Zumbox
Alan Robinson, Courier, Express, and Postal Observer
John Waller, former Director of Office of Accountability and Compliance, Postal Regulatory Commission

Please join us and invite others to participate. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Comments (5)

  • anon
    James Kester

    Like the European Monetary Systems; I believe the answer lies in identifying how much of a "haircut", the current retirees, the current employees w/25 years + service, and or, the current FT employees are willing to take? This includes, the perceived and yet to be determined amounts and or, penalties anticipated for voluntary, and involuntary separations being reviewed by Congress, and the USPS management, on or about the May 15 time frame. Until then "All bets are off"......... (Said with an Britich accent)

    Mar 01, 2012
  • anon
    Hughes Pierce

    Why does the USPS allow a discount of roughly $100 per thousand for Automation Letters when their internal cost for processing this product is less than 1/10 of that amount? The best automation equipment in the world (owned by USPS) sits idle much more that 50% of the time and the network is slated to be cut by roughly 50% while $4 billion a year is given to major mailers in discounts of dubious value.

    Feb 29, 2012
  • anon

    The USPS should build a nationwide wireless broadband network. This would not only generate massive revenue, but also create jobs while vastly improving internet access. You can read details in this <a href="" rel="nofollow">blog post</a> from last week. The presentation is humorous, but idea is offered in absolute seriousness.

    Feb 29, 2012
  • anon
    Steven Bilzing

    Topic 1: USPS is an enabling infrastructure, as it was set up to be in the Constitution. 'Service to the American People' should be the number 1 consideration when making decisions and developing reform. If it is viewed as a business, 'profit' will reign as the foremost important factor in decision-making. Servicing ALL Americans, quite simply, is not a profitable business model. Therefore, charging mailers 'at cost' for all delivery points, will keep the increasingly invaluable postal network sustainable. Topic 2: Optimizing the use of the network may prove to be a daunting task, but finding ways to increase revenue (rather than cutting service) must be an essential part of any reform. A presence in every town and every door offers several possibilities of optimizing the infrastructure, ie. reading meters, collecting census data, using postal vehicles for advertising or as charging hotspots for future electric vehicles, doing neighborhood surveilance, delivering more household products, offering liscensing and notary services at retail windows. Whatever path is taken, optimal efficiency and superior service is key. Two key points in this model must include cutting waste. Managers spend exceedingly too much time filling out redundant forms that only serve to make a fictional number that higher managers look at only long enough to say they looked at it. Hiring procedures and continued training needs much improvemnt. Postmasters keep warm bodies around because the get the mail out of the office in the morning and they know they will not be allowed to hire someone else for months or years. With supervisors stuck at a computer craetively plugging in numbers, inefficient, unproductive, and just plain careless workers plague USPS label. Get supervisors supervising again and cut back the micromanaging. Topic 3:Many opportunities for internet intergration have already slipped through or fingers. With more and more people ordering goods online, shipping business may well be our only source of revenue from the internet. I'll leave that for experts to discuss. Topic 4:I'm not sure what is meant by 'right-sized workforce'. It is said that we are too big now. yet craft employees can barley keep up with the workload. Topic 5: First, suspend further payment to future retiree health benefits and allow interest to finish the prefunding. Second, give $5 bil of FERS surplus and give it bacj to USPS to pay some obligations. Lastly, Give back $30 bil of CSRS surplus to pay off debt and invest in a new electric/more fuel eficcient fleet.

    Feb 29, 2012
  • anon

    Thanks for this info, I look forward to reading ideas and solutions, as I feel everything the PMG is trying to do will not insure a future for the PO.

    Feb 28, 2012

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