on Feb 13th, 2012 in Strategy & Public Policy | 12 comments
 

According to the Postal Service, greater use of electronic communication continues to drive customers away from using First-Class Mail®. Instead of buying stamps, many customers pay bills online, send ‘e-invitations’ to friends and family, and simply press “Send” when they want to communicate. These shifting customer habits will continue to speed the migration away from traditional First-Class Mail. According to the Postal Service, First-Class Mail has dropped 25 percent and single-piece First-Class Mail – letters bearing postal stamps – has declined 36 percent in the past 5 years.

Postal Service customers and others have complained that the planned consolidations and the elimination of overnight service standards will adversely affect them. On the other hand, the Postal Service claims that these consolidations are financially necessary and create a delivery network that more accurately reflects the current volume of mail.

1. What are your thoughts on the consolidations? 2. How will the elimination of overnight service standards affect you? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Planning, Innovation and Optimization Directorate. NOTE: An audit report, U.S. Postal Service Presents Network Optimization Initiative, shall be issued in tandem with this blog.

12 Comments

Maybe too much too fast. I would be okay with losing overnight as long at delivery is 6 days per week.

Network Optimization is not required at this time and will only exacerbate the decline in first class volume. PAEA prefunding of future retirement health care (FHCF) in 10 years is the problem. Keep the network, it is a priceless resource. Eliminating Saturday delivery and moving from doorside delivery to curb or CBU delivery and moving overpayment of CSRS to FHCF will solve problem. For those needing it, sixth day delivery available for all Saturdays in a PO Box, for less than the price of UPS or Fed Ex delivering one package on one Saturday.

Much of south-central Michigan has already had their first-class mail seriously delayed by the partial consolidation of a local sorting facility: the Lansing facility sorts those moved zip codes last, after their previous workload. And sometimes it doesnt appear to be sorted at all. Our first-class mail (which USPS optimistically calls 'next-day' but hasnt been for years), now takes about four days. Our local zip code often gets no first-class mail at all, particularly on Fridays. Oddly, huge bundles show up on Monday instead. A first-class letter last month took nine days to get to Michigan from Virginia. This month, it took five days. Because this Lansing facility fails to sort mail in an efficient manner, local delivery to the Post Offices daily requires two separate trips for the delivery truck-at considerable cost-to get the incoming mail delivered to put into mailboxes. USPS then blames the additional costs on the rural post offices, instead of attributing the blame rightly to the fact that their own failed sorting system necessitated the second trip.

A GAO Report last year pointed out that consolidating sorting facilities would drive transportation costs up 'at least temporarily'. I question how the cost will ever come down. USPS's problems may look like they are strictly monetary on the surface but much of this appears to be serious mismanagement. Donahue and Co (and here I include many District-level managers) are too busy promoting tit-for-tat arrangements and special 'deals, and protecting their own personal profits via certain positions and contracts to pay much attention to how they themselves have destroyed the entire system with their greed. A serious housecleaning by an impartial management group could likely turn the entire system back to the break-even point without major changes to facilities: changes to systems would likely solve all of the problems without major disruptions or job losses. However, Congress needs to approach the problem with true good will and NO pandering to privatization special interests. Various evaluations by GAO have repeatedly said that USPS suffers from the need for a major overhaul of their operating systems. Why are we still heading toward the fatal dead end of losing facilities and have not yet begun the one thing that will save the system?

Has anyone stopped to consider the nations elderly? Closing these service facilities may be a death sentence for millions of our elderly located in rural America who depend on and trust only The United States Postal Service to deliver their vital medicines. Who will be held accountable for these attacks on our elderly and infirm?

This is a truly horrible idea, there was so much disruption in the mail flow in our area just from 1 plant closure. More complaints about delivery than I have witnessed in 34 years as a letter carrier.Periodicals more than a month late, etc. The Postmaster General is not capable of making the decisions needed, or he is bluffing us all. These decisions will be the beginning of the end to what should be a SERVICE to the public.

It's about time. There is a reason the Post Office loses 'Billions' of dollars every year. Nobody uses it.

As an online seller of small items, I frequently use First Class Package rate. However, since I ship all over the US, overnight deliver is not always achievable nor is it expected. I usually estimate a window of 3 to 5 business days between shipment & delivery - so for those local shipments that might now take 2 days instead of just one day to arrive, I will still be within a time frame of "promptness" from my customers' perspective.

I am actually fine with this as a cost saving measure.

I absolutely WILL be negatively impacted by the elimination of Saturday delivery - is that decision final or is USPS still considering the options?

I don't think it's unreasonable for the mailer, like Colleen after making the transaction, having postage affixed to the (certain size packages),
to deposit them in a container located somewhere near the exit of the building. Material handling is killing the clerks.
So, consolidating, combined with integrating self serve facilities for certain types of priority or package mail simply has to be on the table.
When I used to mail packages, I simply hated having to go in a facility and talk to one of the very pleasant UPS clerks.

Having given this issue a lot of thought, I've reached the following conclusions: the USPS needs to downsize some of its facilities. Even those who say immediate problems would be resolved by eliminating retiree healthcare pre-funding and dealing and making other similar changes, the reality is that mail volume is going to continue to trend downward over the long term. So cuts have to be made. But where, and what is reasonable?

I think moving away from overnight delivery is a major mistake, for many of the reasons that critics cite (basically, it reduces the competitiveness of mail even more). But what about a two tier system, where urban areas still get one day delivery and rural areas move to two day? I think that would blunt a lot of the impact because rural areas are more likely to use the mail versus electronic options, and facilities serving mostly rural areas are probably the biggest money-losers for the USPS.

That being said, I understand where rural constituents are coming from with regard to the loss of Post Offices in their communities and the fact that the Village PO option may not be an acceptable substitute. So why not let communities makes a choice - for Post Offices that loose money annually, just permit the community to subsidize them, if desired. If they don't want to pay for them, then they can transition to a village PO model or go elsewhere. Or, offer communities a tradeoff: eliminate at home delivery (and give everyone free PO Boxes at the PO), which would substantially eliminate delivery costs and thus keep the local PO running. WIll these changes be popular? Of course not. But at least communities are given a choice between loosing their PO and not. If they want to step up and cover the losses, than they will. It may also given individuals in such areas an incentive to patronize the PO more, since it would decrease their subsidy.

It appears that you have given real thought to this. Why can't the USPS? Times are tough, gas prices are continuing to drive up the cost of everything.Those who are currently managing the system apparently just need a way to buy a little bit of time (they probably will be retiring soon and let someone else fix the real problems). Our local PO is to be closed soon to help with the overwhelming costs of rural, and home deliveries at the other centers. 15629 has 1 fulltime employee which handles over 300
people's mail and NO delivery, just boxes. The USPS decision to close this facility should generate the necessary funds for more local and rural deliveries at the other centers!... well a few anyway. In the meantime the other local centers will have to add on extra boxes and hire more people. You just don't understand logic.

The consolidation is already wreaking havoc on your delivery services. I sent something out, and when it hits the Cincinnati sorting facility, there's no telling what happens to it there, but items will disappear for a week or more there, causing the delivery dates to be missed. They're going to use this instead of the more reliable ones? Really?

And for all that mail known as "Junk Mail" that gets the preferential cost reduction, it's time to make them pay full cost for shipping it.

Before they go closing anything down, why can't they go in (undercover) & catch the slackers, Bullies/fight-starters, fmla abusers', run drug tests, etc.
If they are on that list they GO, and save money there?!
I know, that would be too much of a bother right?!

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