April 11, 2016 (RARC-WP-16-008)
- Despite $216 million in revenue from providing passport services in FY 2015, the Postal Service has been processing fewer passport applications than before.
- The OIG has identified three areas of customer service that could be improved with simple changes, leading to a greater number of passport applications processed.
- Successful passport services could establish post offices as a hub for other revenue-generating government services, such as identity verification.
The Postal Service earns $25 for each passport executed. Add in related services – photography, Priority Mail, and money orders to cover application fees – and the Postal Service’s total revenues from passport processing reached about $216 million last fiscal year.
The Department of State expects a rise in the number of passport applications, suggesting that future processing revenues for the Postal Service should be promising. However, the Postal Service’s volume of applications executed has been trending downward. In FY 2014, the Postal Service handled only 37 percent of all passport applications, its lowest share in a decade.
The OIG set out to explore possible reasons behind the decline and to see if any opportunities exist to slow or reverse it.
After conducting detailed analyses, the OIG identified three areas of customer service ripe for improvement: the clarity of information provided to customers, the accuracy of offerings on usps.com, and the consistency of service standards across facilities. The OIG suggests opportunities for the Postal Service to make simple changes that could increase the number of passports executed, create a better experience for all customers, and ultimately inspire confidence that the Postal Service is well-positioned to provide other government services.