USPS rapped on e-biz

USPS home page

Although the U.S. Postal Service's e-commerce activities are in their infancy,

they face an uphill battle to meet the standards of federal watchdogs, according

to testimony presented Sept. 7 at a Senate hearing.

The agency's e-commerce activities, including Stamps Online and eBillPay,

suffer from three main problems, according to the testimony of Bernard Ungar,

director of the General Accounting Office's government business operations


* Inconsistent definitions of e-commerce.

* Not adhering to formal project approval requirements and not properly

documenting those that are approved.

* Inconsistent financial reporting for cost and revenue data.

Ungar presented the GAO report, "U.S. Postal Service: Postal Activities

and Laws Related to Electronic Commerce," to the Senate Governmental Affairs

Committee's International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services Subcommittee.

To ensure more effective management and oversight, GAO recommended that

the postmaster general enact the following to counter the e-commerce problems:

* Properly identify e-commerce programs and maintain accurate information

related to their status.

* Follow processes and controls for developing and approving the activities.

* Provide complete data on costs and revenues for those activities.

"We embrace the GAO recommendations," said John Nolan, deputy postmaster


Nolan said USPS has begun to address GAO's concerns, including instituting

a new approval process for e-commerce activities that will provide quarterly

status reports to USPS' Board of Governors. "Management has proven its

ability in other challenging modernization efforts, and the board expects

no less in this challenging arena," said Robert Rider, vice chairman of

the Board of Governors.

But Edward Gleiman, chairman of the Postal Rate Commission, questioned

whether USPS should be in the e-commerce business at all and whether the

agency's products will produce revenue. He noted that a market test of

the NetPost Mailing Online service that guaranteed a printing contractor

a minimum revenue of $325,000 only produced about $23,000. "Pursuit of e-commerce

for its own sake may only serve to distract postal management, and divert

resources, from the critical demands of performing its public mission,"

he said.


  • Congress
    U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock)

    Funding bill clears Congress, heads for president's desk

    The $1.3 trillion spending package passed the House of Representatives on March 22 and the Senate in the early hours of March 23. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, securing government funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

  • 2018 Fed 100

    The 2018 Federal 100

    This year's Fed 100 winners show just how much committed and talented individuals can accomplish in federal IT. Read their profiles to learn more!

  • Census
    How tech can save money for 2020 census

    Trump campaign taps census question as a fund-raising tool

    A fundraising email for the Trump-Pence reelection campaign is trying to get supporters behind a controversial change to the census -- asking respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.