USPS seeks employee Web access
- By William Matthews
- Oct 29, 2000
The U.S. Postal Service, which has called home computers and the Internet
a threat to traditional mail, is proposing to supply its 800,000 employees
with bargain-priced computers and free Internet service.
In a notice to computer vendors, the Postal Service says it is looking
for a company or companies to sell its employees home computer systems for
payments of about $12 a month for 36 months and free Internet service.
The 225-year-old Postal Service is anxious to connect as many of its
em-ployees as possible to the Internet to improve employee communication,
said spokeswoman Sue Brennan.
Once connected, employees could use the Postal Service intranet for
job- related chores, such as changing health insurance policies and applying
for job transfers, and for receiving job-related information. Thus, the
computer and Internet service would help the Postal Service comply with
federal paperwork- reduction requirements, Brennan said.
Postal employees would also be free to use the computers to surf the
Internet, and the Postal Service promises that it "would not, under any
circumstances," monitor its employees' Internet activities.
The effort to "wire" its workforce puts the Postal Service in company
with a number of U.S. corporate giants, including Ford Motor Co., Delta
Air Lines and Intel Corp. All three announced this year that they would
supply their employees with computers — in Ford's case, all 350,000 employees — and Internet service at deeply discounted prices or, in Intel's case,
At Intel, the free computer program is both an employee-pleasing perk
and a productivity booster, said Intel spokes-man Tom Potts. Intel employees
use the company intranet extensively. "It's very efficient for everything
from getting a better understanding of company benefits" to communicating
with co-workers and bosses, he said.
When the program was announced in March, "it actually created genuine
excitement within the organization; it was a big buzz for a while," he said.
"It was pretty much a slam-dunk for Intel." The Postal Service hopes to
have a test computer sales program ready for launch in 01/and a full-scale
program under way in March, Brennan said.
Under the program, each Postal Service employee would be able to buy
a computer system with at least a 566 MHz Intel Celeron processor, an 8G
hard drive, 64 MB of RAM, a CD-ROM drive, a 56K modem, a color monitor and
a color ink jet printer.
Computers would be delivered within 30 days after orders are placed.
They would be shipped to buyers through the Postal Service, of course.
At about $12 a month, the computers would be "at greatly reduced cost"
compared with those available commercially, said Brennan.
Unlike Intel, the Postal Service says it will not help pay for the computers
or Internet service. Computer vendors will have to earn a profit from the
monthly payments and through volume sales. Internet providers are expected
to rely on advertising revenue to make money.
The Postal Service is asking computer vendors to submit bids by Nov.
6 for the right to sell computer systems to USPS employees. Sales to postal
workers could bring in as much as $9.6 million a month.