The US Postal Service as a Conduit between the Government and its Citizens
The idea that the United States Postal Service is slowly losing relevance is not quite correct. In fact, even in this technologically advanced world where communicating through letters is fast getting antiquated, the USPS has striven to keep up. It has one of the world’s largest email systems; has the world’s third-largest computing network; and maintains a communication network of 125,000 desktop computers, 21,000 notebook computers, 85,000 printers, 11,000 BlackBerrys, 152,000 phone lines and 310,857 handheld scanners. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Suffice it is to say that the USPS has innovated and have moved with the times, so to speak.
A newly-released report by the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General entitled e-Government and the Postal Service—a Conduit to Help Government Meet Citizen’s Needs has shown how the Postal Service could become the bridge by which Uncle Sam will be able to better serve the needs of his people. We all know how doing business with some government agencies can be a time-consuming business, especially if the agency does not support online transactions yet. Going to and from government offices can take away precious time—hours that were better spent with our children or productively at work.
Based on the research conducted by USPS OIG personnel, the Postal Service could address certain e-government services that will make government services more accessible. We copied en toto from the report the five categories which the Postal Service could possibly address:
- Communications management – The Postal Service could combine existing applications such as the Electronic Postmark® with secure electronic messaging and digital-physical hybrid services to support government communications and transactions.
- Online and in-person identification – The Postal Service, through its vast retail network, could facilitate the transition of government transactions online by offering digital and in-person identification services.
- Front office services for direct citizen contact – Agencies that require front office personal contact could utilize the Postal Service’s national retail network for applications, status changes, and in-person witness certifications.
- Electronic payments – The retail network could serve as an enrollment and cash redemption/reload channel for agencies that issue prepaid cards. The Postal Service could also provide postal money orders and its own prepaid cards on behalf of other agencies, which citizens could use for secure refunds, loan and grant proceeds, and benefit or entitlement payments.
- Broadband access – The Postal Service could support national efforts to expand broadband availability by providing convenient access points via Post Offices in underserved communities, as well as aerial access that expands the broadband umbrella.
These ideas are well-worth thorough consideration in the wake of the financial problems that the USPS and its postal workers are facing now. By utilizing the Postal Service to give e-government services to its citizens, who knows, two birds could possibly be hit with one stone. What do you think?