Linking USPS Spending and News

US Postal Service's financial history by: (i) net income (income - expenses), budget authority (money allocated by Congress) and outlays (actual expenses) on a timeline (ranging from 1976 to 2008), and (ii) historical events dynamically loaded from an RSS feed at semantic wiki

interesting observations

This demo shows the US Postal Service's financial history by: (i) plotting net income (income - expenses), budget authority (money allocated by Congress) and outlays (actual expenses) on a timeline (ranging from 1976 to 2008), and (ii) annotating the timeline with historical events, dynamically loaded from an RSS feed of articles on this wiki.
  • As might be expected, outlays and net income almost always go in opposite directions. When net income is increasing, outlays decrease, and vice versa.
  • Fiscal year 2003 appears to have been a great year for the USPS. Outlays went lower than ever, into negatives (meaning the USPS was earning money), and net income reached a record high. The next year it seems that Congress responded by not granting the Postal Service nearly as much budget authority as before. Following goals laid out in the 2002 Transformation Plan may have done much to cut costs.
  • Conversely, fiscal year 2007 looks like it was a terrible year, cost-wise, for the USPS. Outlays shot to record highs and net income to record (negative) lows, and more budget authority appears to have been granted to help the Postal Service out. Ironically, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, meant to liberalize the USPS and make it more flexible as a business, had just been passed in 2006.
  • In 2008, net income was still negative and outlays remained high, but they had reversed direction from 2006 (income rising, outlays decreasing). Perhaps the result of selling many new Forever stamps? Or the Postal Accountability Act finally having a positive influence?
  • When outlays rose, budget authority had increased the year before, except for between 2003 and 2006.

Technical Highlights

We used the following technology
  • RDF - this demo uses four RDF datasets, two from both and two directly from the US Postal Service.
  • RSS - this demo used one RSS feed published on this wiki
  • Semantic MediaWiki - this demo let user dynamically edit the list of USPS history events (and the RSS feed) using semantic forms and template feature of semantic mediawiki.
  • SPARQL - this demo obtained the display data via SPARQL query on the three RDF dataset. We used to two SPARQL query in this demo:,
  • Google Visualization API - we used a collection of Restful Web Services to execute SPARQL query, convert the SPARQL query result into JSON (Google processable format), and then visualize data using annotated timeline. some additional javascript code were used to post process the date/time column in JSON file and aggregate JSON data with RSS feed.
Worth Noting
  • Some of the data in this demo does not come from, but from the USPS webpage. The original source for the data can be found here, while our converted RDF is here.
  • Historical information was gathered from various sites around the web. These sources are listed underneath the visualization and in the wiki pages for the articles.
  • Rendering is not perfect in Google Chrome and IE 7: Both browsers do not limit the width of the annotations area, and so the text goes off the right side of the screen.

linked data

We used two datasets from In addition, we used two datasets

Live Demo - Add More News

We maintain an user contributed RSS Feed (also in RDF/XML format) - USPS News RSSUser can edit or add a new event via forms (type the title of your article) 
Below is a selection of USPS News contributed by Users (sorted by last modification date).
Article Title Dc:date Modification dateThis property is a special property in this wiki.
USPS: Forever Stamp Issued 245420312 April 2007 2455097.685300922 September 2009 16:26:50
USPS: Government Performance and Results Act 24489935 January 1993 2455064.908009320 August 2009 21:47:32
USPS: Civil Service Funding Reform 245275323 April 2003 2455064.903761620 August 2009 21:41:25
USPS: ZIP + 4 code introduced 24453361 January 1983 2455064.869224520 August 2009 20:51:41
USPS: National Postal Museum opens 244919930 July 1993 2455064.868993120 August 2009 20:51:21
USPS: Last public service appropriation 244524330 September 1982 2455064.868715320 August 2009 20:50:57
USPS: John E. Potter becomes postmaster 24520621 June 2001 2455064.868252320 August 2009 20:50:17
USPS: First use of OCR 24449711 January 1982 2455064.867696820 August 2009 20:49:29
USPS: 2002 Transformation Plan released 24523661 April 2002 2455064.866898120 August 2009 20:48:20
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