The Postal Regulatory Commission receives hundreds of rate and service inquiries each year (informal complaints about postal service), along with thousands of other comments and questions from the public. The Commission is also contacted by journalists and by members of Congress.
These inquiries are fielded by the Commission’s Public Affairs and Government Relations (PAGR) Office and are recorded in the PAGR Log. A public version of this log is published on the Commission’s public website each quarter in two convenient formats (Excel and pdf). The Commission maintains the public version of the log to omit personal details to protect the privacy of those who contact the Commission.
The log includes data fields such as the date, location and description of the inquiry, the action taken by the Commission and its date. The Commission has created a log of the most common inquiry topics and sub-topics for categorization purposes. The logs contain a report analyzing the topics on which people have contacted the Commission. The reports are posted on the agency home page and are published on a dedicated archive page. They serve as a useful reference for both the public and staff, without any Privacy Act concerns.
This process has been a way to provide useful information on trends of postal service concerns for Commissioners, agency staff and for the public. Recording the descriptions with an initial goal to protect privacy, and posting the reports online, enhances transparency and prevents the need to review and redact these records in the future. This idea also saves money because it precludes the need for laborious records review when a public inquiry for such data is received.
In FY2012, the Commission expanded its use of the public inquiry logs by using data mining techniques to extract useful patterns and trends from the logs.