Politics pays off for the Postal Service


News that the U.S. Postal Service’s financial picture is improving (although it’s all relative when you still post a $740 million quarterly loss) reminded FedLine of a recent inspector general’s report looking at one roaring success: political mail.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who had to empty a mailbox in a battleground state, but last year’s general election was a huge winner for the USPS bottom line. In comparison with the 2008 election season, revenue from a torrent of candidate and other political mailings more than doubled to $508 million, far beyond the initial goal. This was not happenstance, as the Postal Service had assembled a sales team charged precisely with growing that market.

While USPS officials earlier this year turned down Federal Times’ request for an interview with team leaders, the inspector general offers some details on how they did it and concludes that there’s still more money to be made. A couple of key factors last year were:

* Promoting the use of Every Door Direct Mail to reach voters.
* Using digital Quick Response Codes (QRCs) to enhance mailings’ value.
* Making sure that USPS district offices understood “local election opportunities.”
The Postal Service got some help from hotly contested state and local referendums, the report says. Looking ahead, the IG adds, the agency should develop a strategy to sell more “nonballot” election mail materials to citizen groups eligible to vote, but not registered and continue to position itself in the realm of digital security should Internet voting become a reality. Postal Service officials agreed with the recommendations, although they noted that state and local governments are currently barred from secure digital credentialing.

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