Kudos, Darts for Postal Service E-Commerce

To meet online competition, the U.S. Postal Service has narrowed its e-commerce projects to five but cannot yet report what they cost, the General Accounting Office said last week.

Postal officials told GAO that only some of their online initiatives were meant to generate revenue. The others support core delivery services and help customers find information, they said.

GAO noted it has previously railed the Postal Service's "fragmented and inconsistent management" of online efforts. This month's report, requested by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., of the Governmental Affairs subcommittee on international security, proliferation and federal services, criticized incomplete e-commerce financial results and questioned subsidies by other Postal Service services.

In contrast, GAO said, the Postal Service guards individual privacy well ? for example, in eBillPay and the MoversGuide.com Web ? perhaps better than the private sector does.

Deputy postmaster general John Nolan responded that the Postal Service has reorganized all its new products and services under one department to increase oversight. Only five initiatives are now considered e-commerce, he said: ePayments, PosteCS, NetPost Certified, NetPost Mailing Online and Secure Electronic Delivery Services.

The five initiatives will help the Postal Service's bottom line, Nolan said. The projected fiscal 2002 postal deficit after the anthrax scare has risen to more than $3 billion.

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