USPS regulator hires chief data officer, seeks feedback on performance dashboard

The Postal Service’s regulatory agency has hired its first chief data officer, and seeks public feedback on a dashboard it's building to track USPS delivery p...

The Postal Service’s regulatory agency hired its first chief data officer, and seeks public feedback on a dashboard it’s building to track USPS delivery performance.

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) said Tuesday that Russell Rappel-Schmid, a former data analyst with the USPS inspector general’s office and the state of Alaska’s first chief data officer, will serve as its first CDO. The commission said he started the job on Monday.

The commission, meanwhile, has launched the beta version of its USPS data dashboard, and is seeking public feedback for its full launch.

Once fully online, the PRC’s dashboard will complement a similar service performance dashboard hosted by the USPS Office of Inspector General.

USPS would also be required to set up its own public-facing dashboard if a bipartisan postal reform bill the House passed last week makes it through the Senate.

The PRC’s Office of Accountability and Compliance developed the beta dashboard, which displays USPS data on national-level service performance for its market-dominant mail products.

The commission, in its request for comments on Tuesday, clarified that the dashboard doesn’t have the capability to visualize regional or ZIP code level-performance results.

The commission said the dashboard reflects information that is already available to the public and does not present sensitive or personally identifiable information.

However, the commission in its filing acknowledges that “for generalists and members of the public who are not postal experts, but who seek to obtain specific relevant information relatively quickly, this process may seem somewhat opaque.”

“While this information has always been available to the public in the form in which the commission receives it, it is spread across a myriad of reports and filings in the commission’s docketing system and knowing where to look for relevant information is not necessarily intuitive for the general public,” the commission wrote.

The commission will accept comments on the final launch of its data dashboard through March 18.

It’s specifically looking for feedback on the “overall usefulness and desirability” of a dashboard tracking USPS performance, and the scope of the products the dashboard will monitor.

The commission is also seeking feedback on how frequently it should update the data on the dashboard, and whether users want to download the source data.

As the commission’s first CDO, Rappel-Schmid will help lead these efforts and will report to Erica Barker, the commission’s secretary and chief administrative officer.

Rappel-Schmid previously worked as a data analytics specialist for USPS OIG, where he worked on solutions to identify, access and effectively use Postal Service data.

He also worked as an audit manager at USPS OIG, where he oversaw audits of USPS costs, pricing, and international mail.

Rappel-Schmid also used data for internal audits while on active duty in the Marine Corps.

Most recently, he served as Alaska’s first CDO, and in this role launched Alaska’s first non-geospatial open data portal and created tools for users to better visualize and understand the state’s data.

Rappel-Schmid previously served as Alaska’s first CDO, and worked with the State Office of Information Technology and other state departments on their data governance plan for moving to the cloud.

PRC Chairman Michael Kubayanda, during his nomination hearing for a second full term, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last November that the board would work with the CDO to make more USPS performance data more readily available to the public and available in machine-readable formats.

The Senate confirmed Kubayanda for his second term in December. His term lasts through November 2026.

Kubayanda told senators the PRC is also reorganizing its staff to launch a small data analytics group to examine the USPS network, address bottlenecks and conduct specialized studies on postal costs.

USPS, meanwhile, may soon have to stand up its own dashboard tracking its performance.

The Postal Service Reform Act, which passed the House last week, would require USPS to develop a public-facing, online dashboard with national and local level service performance data updated each week to provide additional transparency and promote compliance with on-time delivery of mail.

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