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    Subject Term: "Postal service"

    12 publications with a total of 27 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that current pilot programs related to electronic advance data provide insights that help in assessing USPS's effectiveness at providing mail targeted by CBP for inspection, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to, in conjunction with USPS, (1) establish measureable performance goals for pilot programs and (2) assess the performance of the pilots in achieving these goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide information on the costs and benefits of collecting electronic advance data for use in targeting inbound international mail for screening, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to, in conjunction with USPS, evaluate the relative costs and benefits of collecting electronic advance data for targeting mail for inspection in comparison to other methods.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To manage the mail program more effectively, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop and document a plan to source contracts for mailing equipment in a more strategic manner. Such strategic contract sourcing should enable facilities to obtain equipment to track mail volume and expenditure data more consistently and to maximize cost savings.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To manage the mail program more effectively, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should update VA Directive 6340 to incorporate agency-wide goals and performance measures for mail operations.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To manage the mail program more effectively, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should determine and document the authority and responsibilities of the agency and administration-level mail managers to enable them to improve management and oversight of mail operations.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should direct executive leaders to establish guidance that clarifies when USPS should develop cost-savings estimates using a rigorous approach that includes, for example, a sensitivity analysis and consideration of other factors that could affect net costs and savings, versus when it is sufficient to develop a rough estimate.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USPS provided documentation that demonstrates the current processes cost-savings estimates would be developed under, which includes additional rigor testing. As of August 2017, this recommendation remains open pending additional review of the documentation provided and discussions with USPS about these current processes.
    Recommendation: The Postmaster General should direct executive leaders to verify that calculations of changes in revenue at POStPlan post offices in USPS's revenue analyses are consistent with USPS's definition of POStPlan post offices and take steps to consider when it may be appropriate to develop an approach for these analyses that will allow USPS to more fully consider the effects of POStPlan on retail revenue across USPS.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to USPS officials as of June 2017, USPS has updated the calculations in its re-occurring POStPlan revenue analyses to reflect the inconsistencies GAO identified and has had internal discussions to consider at what benchmark it would be appropriate to develop an approach for these analyses that more fully considers POStPlan?s effects on retail revenue across USPS. As of August 2017, this recommendation remains open pending additional documentation from USPS supporting its statements about the updates to its revenue analyses and additional information from USPS about the results of its benchmarking considerations.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish time frames to complete actions that its Federal Voting Assistance Program has identified it will take to address challenges, and also to use these time frames to demonstrate progress for stakeholders, including through its statutorily required annual reporting.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, through the Defense Human Resources Activity, should direct FVAP's Director to fully implement the six selected leading practices of federal strategic planning into the day-to-day operations of the program.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, through the Defense Human Resources Activity, should direct FVAP's Director to complete the development of a strategic plan that fully exhibits the six selected leading practices of federal strategic planning, including, but not limited to: (1) a statement of FVAP's revised mission and goals; (2) an identification of strategies that address management challenges and resources needed to achieve goals; (3) a description of leadership involvement and accountability; (4) a description of stakeholder involvement in the development of FVAP priorities; (5) a coordination strategy to communicate the program's mission and goals to other federal agencies; and (6) a description of performance measures, aligned with program goals that FVAP will use to track progress toward achieving goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist in determining whether to require USPS and PRC to report on delivery performance for rural and non-rural areas, Congress should direct USPS to provide cost estimates related to providing this information.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, Congress has not taken any action to direct USPS to provide cost estimates related to reporting on delivery performance for rural and non-rural areas
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand attributable costs for individual Parcel Select NSAs, the Postmaster General should direct the appropriate staff to identify and implement cost-effective methods, such as using a sample, to collect and study information on the costs of delivering Parcel Select packages of varying characteristics in order to develop contract-specific attributable cost estimates.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS developed analysis in response to this recommendation by using a proxy for package dimension rather than a sample of customer-specific dimension data, as GAO recommended. The assumptions used in the methodology by USPS result in only minor cost differences regardless of the dimension or weight of packages shipped under individual Parcel Select NSAs. As of June 13, 2017, this recommendation remains open pending additional discussions with USPS about its methodology and results.
    Director: Lorelei St. James
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve information needed for USPS and congressional decision making as well as transparency for all stakeholders, USPS's executive leaders should collect and analyze updated data on delivery mode costs and the potential savings from converting delivery points to less costly modes of delivery and establish a time frame for publicly reporting the results.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS plans to implement this recommendation by May 2018. According to USPS, this will require additional data collection and analysis. For example, USPS plans to assess its delivery network to understand the potential for converting delivery points, but has not yet collected data on the potential savings of large-scale conversions from door delivery to other modes of delivery. USPS stated that for each delivery point, USPS will need to analyze the location, property rights, zoning laws, and logistical and other legal issues. In addition, USPS said it planned future research to understand the impact of delivery mode conversion on mail volume and revenue.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    4 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To create a more effective human capital system that is more responsive to managing priorities and future workforce needs, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should strengthen OPM's coordination and leadership of government-wide human capital issues to ensure government-wide initiatives are coordinated, decision makers have all relevant information, and there is greater continuity in the human capital community for key reforms. Such actions could include: (1) developing a government-wide human capital strategic plan that, among other things, would establish strategic priorities, time frames, responsibilities, and metrics to better align the efforts of members of the federal human capital community with government-wide human capital goals and issues; and (2) coordinating communication on government-wide human capital issues with other members of the human capital community so that there is greater consistency, transparency, and completeness in exchanging and using information by stakeholders and decision makers.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2017, OPM issued a final regulation requiring OPM and agencies take significant steps in identifying, prioritizing, and coordinating efforts to address critical human capital issues. The regulation will require OPM to complete the Federal Workforce Priorities Report (FWPR). According to OPM, the FWSPR will serve as tool for all stakeholders and agencies to: (1) be informed about current and emerging workforce challenges, (2) develop strategies to address the impending risks, and (3) monitor progress. The FWSPR will also serve as a tool for the Administration to develop their Human Capital President's Management Agenda, as well as Cross Agency Priority Goals. the regulation also requires agencies to develop a Human Capital Operating Plan, which will reflect the priorities identified in the FWSPR. We believe this final regulation represents an important step forward in addressing the current fragmentation of the federal human capital community and will continue to monitor its status.
    Recommendation: To create a more effective human capital system that is more responsive to managing priorities and future workforce needs, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should explore the feasibility of expanded use of enterprise solutions to more efficiently and effectively address shared or government-wide human capital challenges. Such actions could include: (1) seeking cost savings and improved functionality through coordinated government-wide Human Resources Information Technology planning and acquisition, (2) seeking agency input to ensure OPM's workforce planning tools provide effective guidance for agencies, and (3) sharing workforce planning lessons learned and successful models across the government.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2017, OPM officials said it had developed some enterprise solutions to address shared or government-wide human capital challenges. For example, OPM officials said it created a multi-factor model workforce planning tool to assess the risk of agency-specific mission critical occupations. Officials said this tool is the foundation for any good workforce planning process to better understand which MCOs require the greatest attention. Officials said the model was drafted from input from an intra-agency workgroup, was beta tested with a workforce planning workgroup consisting of the majority of CFO Act agencies and finally approved by the full Chief Human capital Officer's Council. This tool was then used by agencies to identify their agency-specific high risk MCOs. OPM officials said they plan to use this model to develop other tools. We believe this tool represents an important step forward in identifying enterprise tools and will continue to monitor OPM's continued efforts.
    Recommendation: To create a more effective human capital system that is more responsive to managing priorities and future workforce needs, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should review the extent to which new capabilities are needed to promote agile talent management. Such actions could include developing or sharing: (1) tools, resources, and methods to help identify skills gaps and surpluses that can inform agency recruitment, retention, and training needs; and (2) mechanisms for increasing staff mobility within an agency and government-wide to assist agencies in aligning their workforces with evolving needs.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2016, OPM has been exploring the use of agile talent management approaches. OPM established the pilot project, Gov Connect, that tests how employees can move within and across agencies to work on self-initiated and/or manager-initiated projects. Currently, OPM is working to design Phase II of the effort, which is to develop a model for the government wide implementation of the initiative. Over 10 agencies were involved with Phase I for the single agency pilot process and more contact OPM each day as they learn about Gov Connect. OPM briefed the CHCOC and the President's Management Council (PMC) two years ago about the initiative and since then, Gov Connect has become a part of the President's Management Agenda (PMA). To further the familiarity of Gov Connect, OPM established a Starter Kit, which was designed to communicate a suggested approach for how to implement one or several of the Gov Connect models within a respective agency. The Starter Kit is a reflection of agency lessons learned through their experience with Phase I, and OPM continues to refresh the content as additional information is learned. With regards to skill identification, OPM has begun working to address this through the work with the government wide skills gap initiative. A key aspect of the initiative includes the identification of a root cause. Through this process, it is expected that needed skills will become evident. Subsequently, strategies will be established to address the root cause. In addition, OPM is revising its data collection process. OPM, because of statute and regulation, has the ability to require a set of workforce metrics, such as agency projections. We are currently exploring how to establish the capability to capture information regarding the current workforce. Work will continue through FY 17 until a solution has been identified. In June 2015, OPM reported that its Center for Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is developing tools to better visualize results of the CHCO manager satisfaction survey and the CHCO applicant satisfaction survey for distribution to agencies. OPM is also developing a model to assist agencies in selecting mission critical occupations for government-wide skills gap closure based on multiple factors, including separation rates, retention percentages, and applicant to job ratios. SWP is currently co-leading the GovConnect initiative, which explores models for workforce agility that include micro-detailing, cloud-based skill deployment across organizational components, and employee-initiated innovation initiatives. OPM is collaborating with the Chief Learning Officers Council to develop standards for agency use of data to prioritize investment in workforce development. Through these standards, agencies will apply data including skills gap analysis (e.g., retirement projections, competency gaps, etc.) to prioritize needs. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts.
    Recommendation: To create a more effective human capital system that is more responsive to managing priorities and future workforce needs, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should ensure agencies are getting the guidance and tools that they need by evaluating the communication strategy for and effectiveness of relevant tools, guidance, or leading practices created by OPM or the agencies to address crosscutting human capital management challenges.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, OPM reported that its office of Employee Services is developing for deployment a comprehensive Strategic Human Capital Management (SHCM) needs survey that will be distributed to the CHCO Council. The survey is designed to directly solicit information about relevant tools, guidance and resources from agency human capital professionals that they feel will benefit their SHCM processes. This annual survey and the information OPM gathers from the survey results will assist OPM with developing/providing suggested tools through the HCF. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USPS's capital investment process related to USPS policy and consistent application of leading practices, the Postmaster General and executive leaders should establish a time frame for developing a clear, detailed, single-source, standard set of policies and procedures that reflect the capital investment selection phase.

    Agency: United States Postal Service: Office of the Postmaster General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) informed GAO that its Handbook F-66 General Investment Policies and Procedures is undergoing revisions that will make the capital investment selection process more clear, detailed, and standardized. The revised draft of the F-66 handbook is currently in the review and clearance process and may be finalized in 2017. USPS added that it will inform GAO of further updates as they develop.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USPS's capital investment process related to USPS policy and consistent application of leading practices, the Postmaster General and executive leaders should modify capital investment policies to more closely align with the following leading practices, including: (1) for planning capital investments, consider whether an external entity could better support all or part of a desired function when evaluating alternative capital investment options; (2) for selecting capital investments, use a portfolio approach for developing business cases and finalizing and allocating resources; and (3) for evaluating capital investments, seek and leverage external oversight and review, from a consultant or peer reviewer, and require that best practices and lessons learned be incorporated into the review process.

    Agency: United States Postal Service: Office of the Postmaster General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USPS informed GAO and provided documentation that its Handbook F-66 General Investment Policies and Procedures is to incorporate all leading practices. The F-66, however, is not yet finalized. In particular, the draft F-66 states that for planning investments, USPS is to conduct an analysis to identify the most economically beneficial resolution to a problem--the alternative that will result in the highest net present value, lowest costs, or greatest savings. For selecting investments, USPS is to use a portfolio approach organized by agency goals, sub-goals, indicators, and targets. For evaluating investments, USPS is to evaluate the need to hire consultants when applicable to assess the investment. The revised F-66 indicates that USPS will also is require project managers to submit an analysis of investment performance and lessons learned as part of its post-deployment steps.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USPS's capital investment process related to USPS policy and consistent application of leading practices, the Postmaster General and executive leaders should regularly examine the extent to which executives and program managers consistently follow all leading practices, particularly for: (1) identifying problems and reassessing risk while managing a project; and (2) evaluating the cost, schedule, and performance results of completed projects.

    Agency: United States Postal Service: Office of the Postmaster General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USPS informed GAO and provided documentation that its revised Handbook F-66 General Investment Policies and Procedures is to include a management step to regularly review the progress and benefits of its capital investments, as well as its affordability and achievability, and make adjustments as necessary to meet the investment's goals. In addition, once a project is completed, USPS will require capital investment managers to present on the investment's performance, return-on-investment, and lessons learned.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: A key matter for Congress to consider is whether or not to move forward with a USPS health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. If Congress decides to approve this proposal, then Congress should also weigh the impact on other issues, including safeguards for all USPS health plan fund assets by placing appropriate constraints on their asset allocations, such as limiting investments to Treasury securities and inflation-indexed Treasury securities or, if Congress chooses to permit investments in non-Treasury securities, constraints on the discount rate for prefunding purposes so as not to anticipate returns on risk-bearing assets in excess of those on Treasury securities before such returns have actually been achieved.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation that would create a U.S. Postal Service health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. Therefore, Congress had not fully addressed the impact of safeguards for all USPS health plan fund assets by placing appropriate constraints on their asset allocations. In September 2015, S.2051: Improving Postal Operations, Service, and Transparency Act of 2015 was introduced to the to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The bill requires all Medicare-eligible postal annuitants and employees enrolled in a U.S. Postal Service health plan to also enroll in Medicare, including parts A, B and D. This bill, however, has not yet been approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
    Recommendation: A key matter for Congress to consider is whether or not to move forward with a USPS health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. If Congress decides to approve this proposal, then Congress should also weigh the impact on other issues, including standards for the disposition of any surplus health plan assets that reduce the risk of a new unfunded liability emerging in the future, standards such as amortizing any surplus to mirror the amortization of any unfunded liability, or using any surplus to offset normal cost payments.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation that would create a U.S. Postal Service health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. Consequently, Congress has not fully addressed the issue of standards for the disposition of any surplus health plan assets that reduce the risk of a new unfunded liability emerging in the future, such as amortizing any surplus to mirror the amortization of any unfunded liability, or using any surplus to offset normal cost payments.
    Recommendation: A key matter for Congress to consider is whether or not to move forward with a USPS health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. If Congress decides to approve this proposal, then Congress should also weigh the impact on other issues, including designation or creation of an independent entity responsible for the selection of actuarial assumptions used to annually determine the funded status of USPS's health plan for purposes of determining prefunding payments.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation that would create a U.S. Postal Service health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. Consequently, Congress has not fully addressed the designation or creation of an independent entity responsible for the selection of actuarial assumptions used to annually determine the funded status of USPS's health plan for purposes of determining prefunding payments.
    Recommendation: A key matter for Congress to consider is whether or not to move forward with a USPS health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. If Congress decides to approve this proposal, then Congress should also weigh the impact on other issues, including protections for postal employees and retirees that are comparable to those under FEHBP, including a formula for USPS retirees' contribution to the costs of their health coverage.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation that would create a U.S. Postal Service health plan that would result in an increase in retirees' use of Medicare. Consequently, Congress has not fully addressed the issue of protections for postal employees and retirees that are comparable to those under FEHBP, including a formula for USPS retirees' contribution to the costs of their health coverage.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Because USPS faces a deteriorating financial situation, and to help ensure that future promotions generate net revenue for USPS, the Chairman of the PRC should direct staff to evaluate USPS's data collection and analysis plans for USPS's proposed mail promotions and discuss these evaluations in the PRC decisions for those mail promotions.

    Agency: Postal Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) said that it agreed with our recommendation. PRC has also noted the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is not required by statute to collect data on promotions and provide it to PRC. Based on the information it received, PRC approved USPS's Calendar Year 2017 promotions. However, USPS did not provide PRC with information regarding its plans to estimate the net financial results of the proposed promotions, as we recommended. As no such information was received, no evaluation of these plans was prepared by PRC, and this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202)512-8509

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that USPS's efforts to expand access through retail alternatives support its strategic goals to improve its service and financial performance, the Postmaster General should develop and implement a plan with a timeline to guide efforts to modernize USPS's retail network that addresses both traditional post offices and retail alternatives. This plan should also include: (1) criteria for ensuring the retail network continues to provide adequate access for customers as it is restructured; (2) procedures for obtaining reliable retail revenue and cost data to measure progress and inform future decision making; and (3) a method to assess whether USPS's communications strategy is effectively reaching customers, particularly those customers in areas where post offices may close.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS has undertaken actions to ensure customers have adequate access to postal services, including providing more ways to access postal services in high-revenue markets and expanding the Village Post Office program in rural areas. With regard to USPS's communications strategy, USPS discussed the public notice requirements that are part of the post office discontinuance policy and the role of the Corporate Communications Office in communicating about postal services provided through retail partners. USPS also discussed the process that occurs during discontinuance proceedings to ensure sufficient service is maintained. However, USPS has not provided information to GAO on how USPS intends to obtain reliable revenue and cost data and how it ensures retail service is sufficient to meet customer demand. GAO discussed the need for additional documentation of these matters. Implementation date is to be determined.
    Recommendation: To help ensure contract postal units and Approved Shippers provide postal products and services in accordance with USPS policies, while making efficient use of its constrained resources, the Postmaster General should establish procedures to focus monitoring of retail partners on those determined to be at a greater risk of not complying with its requirements and procedures.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: During a discussion with USPS in January 2017, USPS described a proposed risk-based approach to monitoring CPUs which, if implemented, would meet the intent of the recommendation. GAO is awaiting documentation of this approach.