Think for a moment about your most recent visit to a store. How late was it open? Where was it located? Now think about the last time you visited a Post Office? Were there any differences between the two experiences? While retail and the society at large have changed tremendously in the last 40 years, the size and distribution of the Postal Service retail network today is not that different from the network that existed in 1971. It has not changed to reflect the changes in where and how Americans live today.
Why is this? An OIG paper issued today, Barriers to Retail Network Optimization, highlights some of the obstacles to change:• Statutory restrictions prevent closing Post Offices for economic reasons and impose requirements for notice, consultation, and appeal procedures. • Regulatory procedures and interpretations create burdens on the Postal Service’s ability to make adjustments. • Political obstacles to rightsizing result from the natural inclination of affected groups to protest the loss of local Post Offices. • Institutional barriers within the Postal Service prevent action. These include a lack of sustained focus over time on retail optimization, problems with the availability and quality of data, past dependence on a highly decentralized bottom-up process, and the absence of a well-articulated strategic retail vision. What changes would you like to see to the Postal Service’s retail network? What do you think are the biggest barriers to change? We want to hear from you. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).