OIG Report Paints Bright Future for Postal Banking

From the American Postal Workers Union:
Clipboard0105/21/2015 – A report by the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released May 21 outlines the next steps for implementing postal banking, in which post offices would offer basic financial services – providing affordable banking transactions to every zip code in the US, while strengthening the Postal Service.

The May 21 report titled, “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services,” states that expanding and enhancing existing financial services such as money orders, international money transfers, check cashing and bill payments could be accomplished without an act of Congress.

According to the OIG’s “conservative estimate,” this expansion could bring the Postal Service $1.1 billion in annual revenue within five years while serving  68 million Americans who either who don’t have bank accounts or who “rely on expensive services like payday lending and check cashing.” Some refer to these predatory businesses as “alternative financial services;” APWU President Mark Dimondstein calls them “legal loan sharks.”

While highlighting the impact postal banking would have on the financial health of the Postal Service, the OIG also recommends that the USPS focus on the affordability of the services it could provide.

Among the expanded offerings, post offices “could provide ATMs where recipients of government benefits could withdraw funds without paying a fee,” the report says.

Dimondstein praised the idea.  “It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “The Inspector General’s report confirms that the Postal Service can act now to provide consumers with affordable financial services while strengthening our trusted national treasure, the public Postal Service.

“We look forward to the day when people can get their checks cashed by their trusted neighborhood window clerk,” he said.

The APWU is a member of the Campaign for Postal Banking, a coalition of consumer, worker, financial reform, economic justice, community, civic, and faith-based groups that is organizing support for the concept. For more information, visit www.CampaignForPostalBanking.org.

Source: OIG Report Paints Bright Future for Postal Banking | APWU

NALC statement on OIG’s report regarding USPS financial services

The U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report today on “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services.” Below is a statement from Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers:

NALC-LOGOThe OIG’s report contains interesting observations and recommendations on ways the Postal Service can begin to serve the needs of 68 million adults in this country who have either no access or only limited access to basic financial services.

Of particular interest are services that the Postal Service could immediately pursue since it already has the authority to provide such services as money orders, post-office-to-post-office money transfers, bill payment, check cashing, international remittances and automatic teller machine (ATM) access. These basic services would give a much-needed option to those with no alternative available in their communities.

Because post offices are located everywhere—urban centers, suburbs and rural America; not simply located according to profit models—they are a ready-made network for people to come to, to obtain affordable financial services administered by highly trained, experienced and trusted public servants. This infrastructure includes more than 30,000 post offices and is the largest, best-distributed physical network in the country.

This model has been successful in many other countries and has the potential, according to the OIG, to generate at least $1.1 billion of revenue annually, which would allow the Postal Service to continue its innovative efforts.

The OIG’s recommendations are a good place to start, and we urge the Postal Service to take steps to immediately pursue these opportunities to fill the unmet needs of those in underserved communities.

Source: NALC statement on OIG’s report regarding USPS financial services | National Association of Letter Carriers AFL-CIO

Can the USPS do more to profit from online returns?

From the USPS Office of Inspector General:

With all those designer shoes, cutting-edge electronics, and trendy toys shipping into our homes via ecommerce, it’s only logical that sometimes the shoes won’t fit, the electronics won’t work, and the kids will have already moved on to the next hot toy.

The bottom line is that some of the stuff we buy needs to be returned. And that’s known as reverse logistics.

As the offspring of the enormous ecommerce business, domestic shipping returns currently generate about $3 billion annually in revenue for the package delivery industry, and could reach $4 billion by fiscal year 2016. Shipping returns’ first cousin, package forwarding, is also booming as customers increasingly expect more control over when and where their packages will be delivered.

The U.S. Postal Service is active in the returns and forwarding markets, and offers a variety of products and services, such as Parcel Returns Service, Bulk Parcel Return Service, and two Premium Forwarding Services – one for homes and one for businesses. Recently, the Postal Service has been promoting its built-in advantage over other providers – its 6-day-a-week delivery and its free package pick-up service.

But can it do more to get its chunk of the reverse logistics market? We think so. Our recent white paper on the topic found several services the Postal Service could offer to take advantage of its strengths.

Source: Investing in Reverse Logistics: It’s Only Logical | Office of Inspector General

OIG: USPS needs to do more to reduce undeliverable mail

Clipboard01In a new report, the USPS Office of Inspector General says the postal service’s effort to reduce undeliverable as addressed mail (UAA) isn’t effective, and recommends working with mailers to make better use of new technology to solve the problem:

UAA mail is costly, since it must be forwarded, returned, or treated as waste. The Postal Service spent nearly $1.5 billion handling UAA mail in FY 2014, and the mailing industry incurs about $20 billion in UAA costs annually. Continue reading

Pennsylvania rural carrier pleads guilty to theft and destruction of mail

US-Department-Of-Justi_fmtThe United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Stacie Ann Stevens, age 41, of Hanover, Pennsylvania was charged with destruction of mail in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg and pled guilty before Senior United States District Court Judge William C. Caldwell on March 19, 2015.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, between July and October, 2014, Stevens, a postal carrier, began opening greeting cards and other mail and stealing the cash and gift cards contained inside. The theft was discovered after residents complained about missing or torn mail. In October 2014, Stevens was caught on surveillance video using one of the stolen gift cards at a local store. Stevens faces one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.

Stevens has resigned from the Postal Service. The Government has filed a plea agreement with the defendant which is subject to approval of the court. As part of the agreement, Stevens agreed to pay restitution to the victims.

This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General and the Carroll Valley Borough Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daryl F. Bloom.