Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wanted: Your Big ideas

The Post Office is in trouble. Looks like we are on a trajectory to lose another $7 - 8 billion this year. There are lots of innovations and little tweaks we make every day, but none of them can make up this number or set us on good footing in the future.

So, what kind of Big Ideas do you have? What kind of radical, out-of-the-box thinking will keep us around?

New products? New services? Reductions?

Comment here.


Anonymous said...

I'm EAS but we need to reduce management. Psychologists who have studied the Postal Service say we do not fit the normal business models. Mail gets delivered in spite of poor management and policy and because the majority of craft personnel know what they need to do and they do it.

Several years ago, there was a study of carrier stations where management was removed and the carriers worked as teams to get the job done. It took some time for the teams to bond, but I understand the program worked well.
If carrier and processing teams were established and given the appropriate authority and tools it would work. Let team decisions be driven by computer reports and our main goal - delivery. Allow for craft bonuses for teams who do a great job managing themselves.

Give those EAS and craft who are eligible for retirement a buyout and do NOT replace the EAS. Get rid of temps because they have no buy-in to do a good job. There is no reason for them to feel pride in the long history of the Postal Service -- it's just a temp job. Unless you guarantee a permanent job for a high level of job performance over several years.

Use Six Sigma and really, really streamline processes. Fire those employees who are dead weight and not doing their jobs.

If necessary, start with just one area of the country and experiment on real change. Adjust and then apply the new business model to the rest of the areas.

Unions -- You are very necessary to protect employees but you need to be progressive in your thinking!
Think outside the box!

Anonymous said...

Something radical? How about giving the sovereignty back to the local postmaster so they can do whatever it takes to service his/her community?! In today’s working environment, the local postmaster’s hands are tied when it comes to providing the desired services. For example, the premium forwarding service. This is an overpriced service that is rarely used in my area. A customer goes south for 2 months and wants only their first class mail shipped every other week. The postmaster would collect $19.60 ($4.90 x 4) up front for prepaid shipments using the flat rate envelope. HQ terminated this practice because the customers were using it over the PFS, which would cost them $121.60 ($10 fee + $13.95 per week for 8 weeks). Instead, the customer simply submits a temporary forward and we receive NO retail income and incur the costs of forwarding the mail.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments in the first post……but I would like to see the studies first. I have 2 rural carriers and all I hear is, “That’s not my job.” What happens when a carrier is sick and he/she can’t find their RCA? Are they going to come in and deliver the mail despite their illness…..or are they simply going to sign themselves out on sick leave. Who is going to mow the grass, scoop the snow, or sweep and mop the floors? The unions will never allow a craft employee to be held responsible for any wrong doings in the office. An EAS employee is necessary at each installation, what needs reducing is the levels of staff member between the postmaster and the postmaster general. Each state should have one district manager and 2 assistant district managers…..that’s it. My MPOO merely signs my leave requests (which I should be able to approve myself), reviews/approves my annual performance….which I write myself, approves/disapproves eBuy purchases which are basically approved when I was given my annual budget, and approve/disapprove requests that I prepare and submit. In the last 10 years, he has only visited with me face-to-face 3 times….if you don’t count conventions and 3 digit meetings.

Anonymous said...

Tie PFP and COLA to job performance as a unit. Not every clerk/carrier/mail handler would receive the same COLA, instead it would be based on the units performace. If the unit costs are up or revenue is down....it shoud reflect on everyone at that unit. It would motivate the employees to cut costs.

Anonymous said...

I would be interrested in the first contributors idea. Have a EAS employee responsible for several installations, of course there would be limitations set for the amount of authority given.

Charge for a change of address?

Change city routes to evalulated pay?

Where applicable, move door delivery to curbside?

Produce a list of companies that use our mailing services so we can purchase from them, rather than supplementing our competitors pockets?

The list is endless!

PM Bill

gerardf1957 said...

Why can't we have Congress approve
NBU cluster boxes for the entire country. Once past the cost of putting boxes everywhere, we would save so much time if we delivered mail into these type of boxes instead of door slots, curbside, and walking routes etc.

Anonymous said...

Merge with FedEx Ground Service and then gradually adapt to their business model. The cobwebs and old style structure of the current USPS need to be cleared out. FedEx Ground is structured on a franchise model which provides accountability. If a franchise holder is not meeting standards, the set of routes he/she "owns" is taken away and a new bidder wins the opportunity to provide service. From personal experience I have encountered FedEx Ground walking my 500 foot driveway to deliver one package. My rural postal carrier just leaves a pink slip in the box.

Anonymous said...

Put "red light cameras" on the LLV dashes. Split the revenue with the local PD. Revenue from the cameras should put us in the black in no time.

Anonymous said...

Please do not merge with Fedex. They misdeliver my personal packages often. They often mail me a postcard to drive 25 miles to pick up my package because they could not find my home. More frustrating yet is when my customers are calling me and saying that "Fedex says they left the package at the post office 2 days ago" and I have not seen hide nor hair of it yet. I never did stop doing both the P scan and the AAU scan so I could print out a comparative sheet to show what their package looked like: no scans at all; and what a package that actually did arrive at my office looked like; 2 scans with my scanner ID. Fedex is not our friend.

vickie27948 said...


Anonymous said...

Get the cell phones and head sets turned off during working hours....hate to be waited on by management when they are talking to someone one their own headset!!! Very rude.....also put the customer first once again. So much is wrong in the small offices...NEED MORE POSTAL INSPECTORS OUT AND AROUND JUST POPPING IN FOR A SURPRISE VISIT.

Anonymous said...

How about accepting cash payments for the utility or other type payments like the grocery stores do? Also. I would like to see internet access in the Postal lobbies - let's make e-MAIL a postal term.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of good ideas here, some better than others, but all worth considering. Now, how do we get these ideas to HQ so they might actually see them and think about implementing or experimenting with them? As far as I can tell, HQ is currently focused on one idea only and that is to end Saturday delivery. We need lots more than that. In our District they've implemented DUR (Delivery Unit Relocation) which is when they take the routes from 16 & below office and put them in 18 & above offices. Supposedly this is to save money, but apparently it hasn't since they pay the carriers more due to driving a distance before their first delivery & after the last plus they have a Postal Employee load the box mail for the small "losing" offices into a postal truck and take to all those offices. So mainly we've just reduced customer service - though they may save some money eventually as they downgrade the losing offices & eventually close them (in the immediate future they pay "saved grade" salary, though, so no savings paying someone the same to do less.) I think USPS should have been the company to come up with & implement the "virtual mailboxes" such as Zumbox and Earth Mail. Since it's still in its infancy we should do that, since we can do it better & more securely - do the employees in those enterprises take an oath and are they respected more by the public for protecting privacy, etc? Other services in our post offices is another good idea - adapt some of the ideas the European postal services have. This is especially important in smaller towns where there is no local access to banking, utilities, insurance, DMV, etc. It seems too much focus is placed on cutting costs, which we need to do, but not at the expense of cutting service since that will drive customers away.

jasmine krotkov said...

There is a call today to find ways to extend internet sevices to all Americans, just like the call that resulted in Rural Free Delivery. Almost every post office in the US has high-speed internet access. Put computers in postal lobbies so that customers can get an email address (what a great platform for advertising about postal services!) and a secure post office box at the same time. The Postal Service needs to move fully into the communications business, and not be hampered by only participating in the paper communications business.

I was told that 30% of our retail business (like re-setting meters and etc) has migrated away from our lobbies. Some people conclude from this that we should send the rest of our retail business (like selling stamps) to big box stores, which sounds to me like throwing good money after bad. Why not fill the void, when we have the largest retail network around? The Postal Service's mandate is right there in its name: Service.

That's my two cents-worth. Thanks for listening.

Jasmine Krotkov
Neihart MT 59465

Anonymous said...

I feel that each office in each town should be evaluated indidually. I work in a level 13 office in a small community and what I see in this office, the working and open hours do not apply to this community anymore.(there was a time that it was needed, but with all small towns community is shrinking and businesses are closing.) I don't need to be opened for 8 hours with an hour and 15 minute dinner break. 5 to 6 hours is very sufficent here. The other 2 hours are just not needed and can get to be very long and boring. This is a waste of money paying someone to work when there is no work for them to do.

Anonymous said...

USPS HQ does listen to our ideas.I suggested one which was implemented - offices ordering stamps online.

I agree we need to reduce EAS, by combining Districts, Areas, and offices in close proximity. Give current EAS incentive to retire or transfer.

Have eMail addresses linked to PO box rental with password access, terminal similar to WebTV where only the email account can be accessed.

Partner with major credit card to offer USPS logo debit card - good anywhere, we can offer along with greeting cards. One stop shopping!

Integrate delivery confirmation/special services printing ability into PVI labels. Reduce wait time for applying retail labels/scanning.

Anonymous said...

I agree that in small offices we don't always need to be open 8 hours. Many of our customers are ederly or work out of town and would like carrier service. I've always thought we should be open for a couple hours in the morning, then the postmaster could go out and deliver mail and open for a couple more hours in the afternoon. This would work best with NDCBU units on neighborhood corners. Mail would be secure and closer to customer's homes. Of course the carrier unions and postmaster organizations would have to work out the details or there'd be grievances. Another idea for the small towns is to have them open half-a-day or every other day so a postmaster could work 2 offices in close proximity. I know of some rural routes that deliver every-other-day. It's a reduction in service, sure, but the alternative might be no post office at all in small towns!

Anonymous said...

I am always reading about closing the little offices. I would agree that some of these offices are "under" used and the MPOO's could assign more adhoc jobs...or permanently assign these duties to that office. In most cases these adhoc jobs come with strings and are always still under the MPOO's direct control, which is not fair to the person performing these duties. I agree with the utitiltiy bill payments, that is done in many European post offices. Another could be to establish a "moblie" post office much like the old book-mobiles. The PM would travel to a town, sort the box mail and open for retail for two-3 hours. Then move on to the next town and do the same. But this increases security risks and the possiblity of auto accidents.

Anonymous said...

How to tell HQ about our ideas? Our comments often fall on deaf ears. There are PM service organizations that have been trying to do that for years without success and they had to take their concerns directly to congress! Instead, lets establish a national board of PM's, say 200 (4 from each state) members from across the US who review HQ policy and procedures/operations. Not like the board of governors who have little or no power, instead this board would have the power to enact or prevent actions. This would make the PMG and staff listen to our concerns and require feed back.

Anonymous said...

How about a VOE that actually works!! Stop asking us dumb questions that have little or no importance to the employees. This should be on line, much like this site, where employees could log on and rate/make comments on the performance of our managers...up to and including the PMG.

Anonymous said...

How about if we all get on the same page when it comes to goals. Right now, the disticts goals are different then the post offices goals. So they have us working towards their goals, often expending more costs to meet their goals and ours go unmet. HQ should establish a broad goal, such as increase retail revenue. Then this goal goes out to the Area who begins to narrow this goal with more details. The districts would then take their goals and narrow them further. Then the post offices would be the last level. When the unit meets it's retail goes...so does the district, so does the area, and so does HQ. Right now it seems that each district oeprates independent of each other....each competing for the top dog award...instead of focusing on one goal!

Anonymous said...

I think at least in the small offices they should open a coffee chain. I am a level 18 and the Post Office is social hour. I think this would go over well in allot of Small Post Offices.

Anonymous said...

Idea 1: Remove the decision makers who authorized a Pig as the icon of the Postal Service in the Priority mail/Toy Story ad campaign. A lovable eagle would have better served the campaign. So would have Mr. Zippy. On the other end of the scale--even Satan has followers. What does a pig convey? Swine flu? A hog at the public trough? A fat, overweight organization? If Milton Bradley ever offered a game called "Get a Clue!", this would be one of the questions: What was the Postal Service thinking when they rolled out a pig to represent their image in a national media campaign?

Idea 2: Eliminate any penalty for employees taking early retirement. It isn't a cash incentive, but it should tip the scales enough for more employees to jump ship.

Idea 3: Put GPS-tracking capabilities on carriers as well as Supervisors & Managers. There's off-site idle time on both ends of the pay scale.

Idea 4: Disable all company computers from accessing Face book. It’s a time-killer.

Idea 5: Reduce the number of District Offices by 30 percent.

Idea 6: Consolidate at least one Regional Office.

Idea 7: Get an administrative law passed, allowing the Postal Service to demand customers position their mail boxes on the street, instead of on houses. Except for Aux rtes & an occasional, hinterland rural rte, a single carrier should be pushing a thousand deliveries/day.

Bob Stwalley said...

I propose a new product entitled "Business Reply Mail-Political". With the rapid acceptance and expansion of vote-by-mail legislation, many government entities desire voting methods which provide ease-of-use for their prospective voters. Vote-by-mail meets this criteria but different weight and size of ballots causes much confusion when attempting to affix proper postage.
Current BRM rates prohibit most government agencies from utilizing BRM envelopes. I would suggest a new product called "BRM-Political" and setting a rate structure of postage plus five cents ("postage + a nickel"). Charge five cents handling plus correct postage for all returned BRM-Political envelopes. Political entities could also use this product in place of some required mailings now being mandated. In some states, political entities are tasked with providing pre-paid return envelopes to certain registered voters. This product would ease their expenses in that only returned envelopes would be charged.
Should "BRM-Political" be adopted, voter participation would likely increase substantially. The "Hawkins Study" (Feb. 2008) estimated one-third of all non-voters would likely vote-by-mail if return postage was provided. This would be a win-win for voters, government entities and the USPS. Postage revenues would increase with the increase of vote-by-mail ballots and our vital role would be further enhanced.

Anonymous said...

Each post office could not only sell greeting cards and envelopes they could sell different kind of nick nacks or clothing or sell movies like netflix does carriers could deliver fliers so customers know what is for sale.

Anonymous said...

Several people have mentioned something I have championed for years - eliminate inefficient delivery locations. Allow the USPS to choose the most economical centralized delivery solution for all deliveries.

Replace the e-Idea program with something that actually works. Prior to eIdeas, I could send emails or speak to the decision maker following an employee suggestion. A number of my suggestions have been adopted at the national level. Since then, my e-Idea suggestions have gone into a black hole, only to be adopted nationally several years later when someone else finally figured it out. (Manager access to emergency contact info - Manager Portal, PARS programming change so system recognizes spaces and dashes in secondary addresses).

Renegotiate the APWU contract so that we can schedule clerks to work on days that meet operational needs instead of being short-handed every Sat and Mon simply to provide consecutive days off in a six day a week operation.

Anonymous said...

Put all routes on an evaluated system like the rural routes this will save millions here's how 1.No more wasted overtime by hourly carriers 2. as city carriers retire break the route down then you eliminate llv's which will save on gas and repairs 3 it will reduce management because there will be no more need to micromanage 4. another way to save gas case all mail at the office city carriers sit at a mail box going through different trays(dps)box holders etc with all mail cased you pull up insert mail drive on

Anonymous said...

Imagine,if you will,instead of going to 5 day delivery eliminate Tour I as a whole. First of all Tour III has to run as normal processing OGP.
All DPS runs and sortation of local mail would be done primarily during the day. While this does add 1 day to the delivery it benefits are worth it.
1.People on days-their moral goes up. Productivity goes up. Sick leave goes down,which cost the P.O. about 70 million a year. Also accidents go down. Also night differential savings is immense.
2.Having read the MAQ-PAQ there are times when Carriers are waiting on their mail from processing. Running during the day would mean all mail to be delivered the next day would be available to the carriers when they return from the street. They can stay over or come in early on heavy days. Not to mention that during the summer this would be a huge benefit to the carriers as they could come in early and get out on thier route to avoid the heat of a hot summer day. No more wasted time on wating around for mail and a chance to help avoid heat stroke.
3.I work in transportation and some of these contracts make good money because they have so much time between their last delivery point and when they start back to the office of origin that they maintain an apartment.Reason being they are a couple of hours away. This apartment is figured in with the cost of the route when the contractor submits his bid. These routes can be figured out to 8 hours which means,with the exception of the large semi's. These smaller trucks can be driven by Postal Employess and that would be a huge saving compared to what the contractors make as the P.O. already pays for the fuel so that is not a hidden cost of taking over these routes.

Anonymous said...

There is more to it but I think you get the idea.
However this idea is not without its problems. There is limited space in smaller offices so when they drop off mail they may have to leave their empty equipment until the return trip. That would only be a few hours. Express poses a problem yet not one that can not be dealt with.
I'm rambling...sorry. They just need to do more than they are,when it comes to the financial woes of the P.O.

Anonymous said...

Provide a reward ,incentive , recognition as part of pay instead of promotion for Big tasks and teach management basic mamagement principles of treating employees with respect and implement six sigma process to save and track progress. use less management and more workers (full time and committed).

Francis said...

Most successful companies spend more than 20-30% for IT & Automation and less than 30% on Management and less than 30% into operations and less than 20% as vendor costs.
Costs are towards Equipments and Assets not to vendors. Here our strategic plan to save USPS is spending 1% towards IT and how much of that is paid to lobbying Top vendors(when we are bankrupt we can't afford big vendors when other do a better job) are best to everyones knowledge. This is not recipe to success. Have rewards to complete project on time and penalize for failures and have management and quality reviews by qualified Employees not contracted auditors to ensure quality and spend more than 20% to IT to modernize and 20% to automate and processes 20% to Quality and research new products and 20% only to manage and market 20% for the rest of operations. Outsource those that won't be needed in future take +-2% from each of above category.

Anonymous said...

Unions MUST work together! We cannot afford to have clerks waiting in "stand-by" rooms for more work to come in while carriers are getting paid overtime because their routes are too long.
We must be able to cross crafts to get the work done.

Anonymous said...

I love the comment @ the top who said: Fire the "dead weight" employees!! However, to do this, the unions would have to start realizing that our Management should have this power along w/some stringent guide lines to be used as a last resort AND to be sure that "personal" conflicts does not resort in an un-justified firing...etc.!! THEN, the Postal Service needs to "revamp" their HIRING policies. Instead of the present / lengthy process including a 3yr. "wait list", they should be able to hand out "on the spot" applications do whatever necessary "background check" is needed and have a testing system that's available (perhaps) at the Local P.O. where the app is given. Then those "dead weight" employees could be "redily" replaced w/employees that WANT to work.

Anonymous said...

1. A nation wide lotery. USPS is a nation wide company and there are thousands of offices all over the place. Clerks can sell tickets or have a machine set up in the office for people to buy tickets the way they buy stamps.
2. One supervisor for every 50 routes. Some offices I have worked in have 45 routes with 3 or 4 supervisors. That is a huge amount of wasted money. Why pay the extra salary and benefits for a position that isnt needed. Management is trying to do everything they can to get rid of routes so how about get rid of management. Have a computer that tells supervisors how much "down time" they have and see if they agree with what the computer says.
3. Stop door to door delivery. When a carrier retires set up that route for gang boxes.
4. Stop letting some carriers have routes that are six hours long and make them have an eight hour route like the rest of us.
5. Have a cleaning crew come in once or twice a week and get rid of all the janitors.
6. Have TE's wash all the postal trucks and vans.
7. Casuals were paid about $9.00 per hour to start but TE's are at about $19.05 to start. How did that happen? That is a HUGE waste of money. They would have been happy to get a buck or two more per hour but to double their pay is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to respond to the comment about firing the person who came up with the idea of the pig as the icon of the Postal Service in the new Priority Mail/Toy Story ads. It's a PIGGY BANK, which conveys the idea of saving...as in saving money by using Priority Mail Flat-Rate boxes. There is no "cuddly eagle" in the Toy Story tie-in. The piggy bank is voiced by John Ratzenberger, who also played the character Cliff Claven -- the mail carrier -- on the classic sitcom "Seinfeld." Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Cliff Claven was from "Cheers".

crws said...

Most small businesses use a printing/mailing house that mails under the "houses" permit #. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to track revenue spent by individual companies because bulk mail houses are not actively managed by the USPS marketing teams. Therefore, it is difficult to justify how effective the sales force is/has been say, with sales calls in the above example because $ tracking by customer shows no permit volume, and revenue projections and sales team staffing have suffered under this structure.
My personal opinion is that all standard mail postcard correspondence should be free, and use the current revenue model of the web industry:
To get and send free standard post card mail, you sign up at i.e. usps->freemail, then that user data base is leveraged to obtain quotes by mailers to supply expense paid freemail with a section on the address side of the postcard designated to advertising so that the receiver sees it, sent on a user-dictated basis. The same eyeballs-to-addollars revenue model that works for the web.

To fully implement this, a browser and of course iPhone app , as well as Outlook integration would be desired to have a "freemail" button that would snapshot or copytext the current document or page in process and transmit it in pdf or ps format to your registered "freemail" account. If you are not online, it could queue it for when you are. As far as bidding is concerned, it could be regional or local. My focus would be changing people's habits to think about mailing again. One of the saddest parts of the last decade of terrorism involving the USPS, is that ALL school field trips have been canceled indefinitely, which means our kids don't even get the chance to know what is behind the mail carrier, the person in blue that shows up everyday and makes their dog bark.

crws said...

This is a no brainer.
Why are we not rolling this out as pioneers...

IMHO this would be the nextgen perfect postal delivery vehicle.

Ford has teamed up with California-based Coulomb Technologies to give away free charging stations to early customers of its electric vehicles,
starting with the Transit Connect Electric.

Coulomb is spending $37 million to install 5,000 of its Chargepoint stations in nine markets including
Austin, Texas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, FL., Sacramento, CA, the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area,
Redmond, WA, and Washington, D.C.
Transit Connect Electric customers will be able to get one of those charging stations installed at their home or business free of charge
if they are in the designated markets.

Comparative on the Ford Connect.
UK vs US note vastly superior fuel efficiency in UK models.

That brings us on to the contents of the Transit Connect engine bay. Not too much change here. As before, the range is based around Ford's trusty Duratorq 1.8 TDCI diesel. With 220Nm of torque on offer at just 1,750rpm the mid-range 89bhp powerplant pulls strongly and rarely feels overworked. The excellent TDCI configuration with its high-pressure common-rail fuel injection technology has gone down a storm in Ford passenger cars and van drivers have been similarly taken with it. As well as useful low-end performance, this TDCI manages to return 37mpg on the combined cycle. A figure that's only marginally inferior to the entry-level diesel option - a 74bhp 1.8-litre TDCI engine that produces the Connect's best combined economy.


Engine type 2.0L Duratec® DOHC I-4
Displacement (cu. in./cc) 122/1999
Horsepower (SAE net@rpm) 136@6300 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.@rpm) 128@4750 rpm
Compression ratio 10.0:1 Bore x stroke (in.) 3.44 x 3.27
Fuel Injection Sequential Multiport Electronic
Recommended fuel 87 Octane
Fuel economy EPA-Estimated 22 City/ 25 Highway/ 23 Combined
and EV on the way-


crws said...


chuck said...

The post office should charge a few for the change of address requests we get from attorneys. Our post office is a level 20 and we get an average of 10-15 of these a day. Even a $2 a piece charge would be a huge revenue builder when you think of how many of these are processed all over the nation. Why are we giving this service away!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think we can charge everybody 12 bucks a year to deliver and pick up their mail. Thats one buck a month. I dont care how bad the economy is every house and business can afford it. How much do people waste on smokes, coffee, etc..
Everybody is doing what they have to do to stay in business and so do we.
If we cant raise the price of stamps we have to find other ways to make money.