E-Government

USPS continues to explore digital services

mailbox -- photo by AndyC, Wikimedia Commons

With its traditional business lines flagging, the Postal Service is actively exploring digital products and services. (Photo by AndyC, Wikimedia Commons)

Few government agencies interact with the public quite as directly and frequently as the U.S. Postal Service does -- and that high-touch relationship brings with it opportunities. The USPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on Jan. 7 released a new whitepaper detailing e-government possibilities for the agency tasked with physical mail delivery. The report is the latest in an ongoing research effort by the OIG into Postal's digital future.

The new paper explains the evolutionary stages of e-government, which include the interaction and integration of digital services for citizens and other agencies. Serious obstacles remain, however -- the report cites the lack of universal standards and the understandable privacy concerns involving passwords and home addresses. Yet if the Postal Service could provide solutions to these issues, it would both drastically improve government services and secure a future mission for itself. The OIG report suggests that such changes are possible, and cites international examples of how the digital strategy can succeed.

Other agencies would also benefit from a postal service e-government offering, the report argues. The Department of Defense, for example, began a program last summer to digitize incoming mail for Pentagon staff, but does not do the same for outgoing mail, so “the Postal Service could offer hybrid mail services with legal standing and force of law to complete the physical-digital cycle for DOD and other agencies,” according to the report. It also notes ways the e-government strategy will help agencies such as the IRS, FCC, Treasury and FEMA, among others, to cut costs and increase efficiency.

The full report can be found at http://www.uspsoig.gov/foia_files/RARC-WP-13-003.pdf.

About the Author

Emily Cole is an editorial intern for FCW.

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