USPS to audit its wireless costs

U.S. Postal Service contracts with ProfitLine to analyze the agency’s spending on wireless devices and services

The U.S. Postal Service, deliverer of snail mail since 1775, has become a major user of 21st century telecommunications services, including wireless communications. Now the agency wants to know precisely how much it spends on wireless services and devices.

USPS recently awarded a $2.4 million contract to ProfitLine, a telecom expense management services provider, to analyze the agency’s use of 34,000 wireless devices at 37,000 postal locations and indicate potential savings wherever possible.

Steve Hundley, chief executive officer of Profit-Line, said the expense examination will include all USPS wireless contracts and monthly wireless bills.

Hundley said USPS requested the audit because the consolidation of telecom carriers and the proliferation of services they offer have led to an increase in billing errors over the years.

“We will validate and audit those bills,” Hundley said. “We will look for errors. We will make sure those bills are [according to] the contract and that USPS is paying for what they contracted with the carriers.” Hundley added that ProfitLine will correct any billing errors it finds.

Joe Basili, a research director at Aber-deen Group, said the government is seeking to adopt some of the commercial sector’s best practices, “and certainly that applies to cost management as it relates to telecom and network expenses and certainly wireless expenses as well.”

Basili said agencies have seen their wireless bills subsume a greater portion of their overall spending. “Getting control of wireless expenses is becoming a flash point,” he said. “As a consequence, they’re really looking to exercise this control, and one of the ways they’re doing it is through this business process outsourcing of the spend management function as it relates to wireless expense.”

According to a recent Forrester Research report, 52 percent of agencies have adopted wireless e-mail compared with an industry average of 38 percent.

Forrester analyst Alan Webber said agencies are increasingly putting mobile devices in the hands of their key employees, providing around-the-clock access to e-mail and, “in the case of the U.S. Postal Service, access to agency intranets and disaster response instructions.”

Hundley said he couldn’t divulge exact USPS figures but that a telecom expense audit typically can save an organization 3 percent to 7 percent. An additional savings of 5 percent to 20 percent is possible when a client is on the proper mobile rate plan, with the most air minutes and the least number of unneeded features, he said.

“When you add it all up, there is a lot of money being spent on telecom in government, and when you combine all the services, you can be looking at 20 percent in savings,” he added.

ProfitLine is also working with the Homeland Security Department and is in the process of reaching a deal with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hundley said.

The San Diego-based company has named Doug Castro vice president for the federal sector in Washington, D.C. “We’re building a very deep vertical in the federal space,” he added.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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