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Project of the Week: US Postal Service OIG Audit Project Pages

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A couple weeks ago, I met Timothy Cole, an auditor in the US Postal Service (USPS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG). He shared with me a pretty cool crowd-sourcing project they launched recently, called “Office of Inspector General Audit Project Pages.” My interview with him is below.

1. Provide a brief project overview.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Audit Project Pages is one part of our social media strategy to engage the public, stakeholders and Postal Service employees in the work and mission of the OIG. The Audit Project Pages provides a platform for stakeholders to share their knowledge of and feedback on planned OIG audits. We want to make our audits as open and transparent as possible and encourage stakeholders to participate on our audits, whenever possible. The Project Pages are housed in a section of our external website.Stakeholders are invited to view and provide insight and/or personal experiences concerning the particular subject being conducted in the audit.

2. What was the impetus for the project?

As noted above, the OIG uses social media to gather ideas from an extensive community of stakeholders, the postal community and postal employees. This provides us the opportunity to tap into the large postal community to further improve and expand our audits for the benefit of the Postal Service. Further, we are committed to transparency in Postal Service operations and transparency in the work we do.


3. What problem are you solving?

Our audit projects often have a lengthy planning period. Creating a project page at the very beginning of a project lets us interact with stakeholders and experts much sooner in the planning phase compared to traditional methods of making the audit public once the report is completed. We hope to use this early feedback from stakeholders to help reduce cycle times, define the audit approach, and possibly identify recommendations to the Postal Service.


4. Who are the key stakeholders?

Postal Service employees and customers, colleagues in the Inspector General community, colleagues from other national Postal Service audit and investigative organizations, and the general public.


5. Who benefits?

The Postal Service is the biggest beneficiary, as through this platform we can reach out to wider audience and get even more indepth information when performing audits. In addition, both stakeholders and the OIG, particularly the project team benefit from this. Teams receive immediate feedback that they can incorporate into their audit, and stakeholders are empowered to participate in our projects and gain a better understanding of what the OIG and Postal Service are doing.


6. What are the primary challenges in implementation? How are you overcoming them?

The biggest challenge initially has been publicizing the Project Pages. Because of vast size of the Postal Service and postal community, there is not one universal audience for our work. Also our audits cover a vast variety of topics. The number of participants and corresponding comments have been relatively low. Many of the projects we do impact a wide variety of stakeholders, and we have learned that we need to promote the site to a separate target audience for every project that we do. When we tap into the right audience, the benefits really pay off, as we are now starting to see much more and very valuable feedback from the stakeholders.


7. Any lessons learned or advice you’d have for your colleagues pursuing a similar project?

We learned that this is more than just software running on a server that is out ‘there’ somewhere. We had to internalize this by empowering each manager with the ability to control their own page and instill in them the responsibility to attract stakeholders to the site and participate.


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View All Previous Projects of the Week Here

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Profile Photo Wendy

Great initiative on the part of the Postal OIG, thanks for the post! I’d love to see an example of the kind of feedback they are receiving using this tool. Anything that can help the audit process become more open and less mysterious/scary is a plus in my book.

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Profile Photo Timothy Cole

Thank you for inquiring about our projects, one of our planned audits is to look at the way we distribute stamps to post offices. We asked our audience whether there were any any concerns with units receiving stock using Priority Mail instead of Registered Mail. We got 70+ responses. One notable response indicated that the change to our Priority Service gives us the chance to prove that the service meets our internal needs and that our customers can utilize it for their valuable shipping needs. We took all the feedback and shared it with USPS HQ, who was very interested to read what people thought of the change.

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