August 11, 2014 (RARC-IB-14-003-DR)

Because of proliferating digital technologies, dwindling budgets, shrinking field structures, and growing public demand for more modern and efficient services, governments are having to transform the way they operate. For some of the same reasons, postal operators everywhere, including the U.S. Postal Service, are looking for ways to expand or increase business. As a result, government can be an ideal postal customer if postal operators leverage their unique assets and capabilities accordingly. In addition to developing new business opportunities by partnering with government agencies, postal operators could ultimately help governements serve the public better.

Exactly how this could be done was the focus of a round table discussion the Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the Postal Innovation Platform recently co-organized and IBM hosted in Washington, D.C. Experts from academia, government, and the private sector identified and explored numerous possibilities and opportunities for postal operators anywhere in the world to develop or integrate services with their respective governments. This Issue Brief details the main points discussed and conclusions reached.

There was widespread agreement that posts in every country have features and resources that give them competitive advantages over others in the e-government space. For instance, they have unrivaled networks of post offices and delivery services, which could help bring government services closer to remote areas, where access to the Internet or government services is either minimal or nonexistent. And given their traditional role as trusted intermediaries, posts can also offer services that require privacy and security: payments, document certification and notarization, management of electronic health records, and voting by mail, among others.

Several postal operators already partner with government in some of these ways. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, has long helped the U.S. State Department process passport applications, and Poste Italiane issues notices of traffic violations and collects payments. But as the round table discussion revealed, many more opportunities exist.

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