USPS wants to stamp out excess costs

The U.S. Postal Service has become a major user of 21st century telecommunications services, including e-mail. Now the independent agency wants to know precisely how much it's spending on its wireless devices.

The Postal Service recently awarded a $2.4 million contract to ProfitLine, a telecom expense management (TEM) services provider to analyze its 34,000 wireless devices at 37,000 postal locations and point out any potential savings.

Steve Hundley, chief executive officer of ProfitLine, said TEM will examine all of the Postal Service's wireless contracts and billing for services and equipment.

Hundley said ProfitLine's audit includes USPS' monthly wireless bills because over the years the consolidation of telecom carriers and the proliferation of services they offer have led to an increase in billing errors.

'We will validate and audit those bills. We will look for errors. We will make sure those bills are [according to] the contract and that USPS is paying for what they contracted with the carriers,' he said. 'Then we will remediate if there is an error or file for a recovery, and ensure they get exactly what they contracted with the carrier for.'

He said the telecom carriers will also benefit because they do not want to overcharge their clients, particularly government agencies, which are embracing mobile applications faster than the private sector.

According to a recent Forrester Research report, 52 percent of agencies have adopted wireless e-mail compared with an industry average of 38 percent.

In a Forrester research paper, analyst Alan Webber said agencies are increasingly putting mobile devices in the hands of their key employees, providing around-the-clock access to e-mail and 'in the case of the US Postal Service, access to agency intranets and disaster response instructions.'

Hundley said he couldn't divulge precise USPS figures, but added that, in general, a TEM audit of bills can save an enterprise 3 percent to 7 percent.

There's an additional savings of 5 percent to 20 percent when the client is on the right mobile rate plan, with the most air minutes needed and is not paying for features that are of no use to the client, Hundley said.

'When you add it all up there is a lot of money being spent on telecom in government and when you combine all the services you can be looking at 20 percent in savings,' he said.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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