Mail Management:

GSA Needs to Improve Support of Agency Programs

GGD-90-49: Published: Aug 7, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the General Services Administration's (GSA) support to federal agencies in managing the cost of agencies' mail operations.

GAO found that: (1) while GSA has recently emphasized strategic planning to meet several of its other responsibilities, it lacks a comprehensive plan for its mail leadership responsibilities; (2) GSA mail management resource levels have not been adequate to sustain efforts begun in earlier years to reduce mail costs or to carry out an effective leadership role; (3) GSA officials said that mail operations were not reviewed; (4) the GSA claim that it prompted changes to agency mail programs was questionable; (5) GSA has stopped providing on-site technical assistance to support changes to agencies' mail operations; (6) despite statements that GSA would provide a mail management handbook to federal agencies in fiscal year 1981, it did not publish a book until April 1989; (7) GSA is not providing support that agencies believe would be of benefit; (8) GSA courses did not include adequate training on designing and implementing an effective mail management system; (9) there has been little planning, coordination, or interaction with major federal agencies by GSA to arrive at an integrated, focused approach to support agency mail systems; and (10) GSA has successfully reduced agency mailing costs through the actions of its Federal Supply Service (FSS).

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The GSA mail management branch revised two training courses. GSA also participates in mail management seminars conducted by the Postal Service.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA develops training materials and a delivery system that better meet agencies' needs.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA created a mail management branch in the FSS that provides on-site technical assistance to agencies. This group also works with the Presidential Committee on Management Improvements.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA makes on-site technical assistance in mail management available to agencies, using GSA and other agencies' expertise, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA recently created Mail Management Branch is currently providing federal agencies with comprehensive written guidance that focuses on opportunities for agencies to reduce their mail costs. This guidance is in the form of informational pamphlets, papers, seminars, and training classes. These actions are an acceptable substitute for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA develops timely and comprehensive written guidance that focuses on opportunities for agencies to reduce their mails costs.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA does not plan to increase mail management oversight in its Information Resources Management Review Program. A newly established mail management office within the FSS may take this action if given sufficient staff. The alternative is an acceptable substitute for the GAO organizational choice.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA expands its Information Resources Management Review Program to include reducing agency mail costs and monitoring agency improvement efforts.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA has created a statement of work for use by federal agencies when contracting for third-party mail processing services. The statement will facilitate agencies participation in Postal Service worksharing programs that offer mailers both discount rates while enhancing service performance. This action is an acceptable substitute for assisting agencies in achieving postage savings.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA obtains and expands competitive contracts related to agency mail operations, such as presort and overnight delivery.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GSA published a monthly newsletter on mail management issues and changes in technology. GSA represented federal mailers' views before the Postal Service on mail preparations and direct accountability issues.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, working in close cooperation with federal agencies, should develop a plan clearly laying out a strategy, including an appropriate resource level, for meeting GSA statutory mail management responsibilities. At a minimum, the strategy should ensure that GSA solicits and represents agencies' common mail concerns and disseminates important information to federal agencies.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

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