on Jan 28th, 2013 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 18 comments
 

With a large network of facilities and post offices, and yet mail volumes in decline, the U.S. Postal Service finds itself with a good deal of unused capacity. The dynamics over closing and consolidating facilities has raised the question of whether there are other uses for them. Further, the Postal Service could still own the facilities even after it closes or consolidates operations. Rather than sit empty, could the Postal Service use some of that capacity in non-traditional ways to generate additional revenue? One idea, if the law allowed, would be for the Postal Service to provide self-storage services at unused processing facilities. It could also provide safe-deposit boxes at under-used post offices. Self-storage allows users to rent storage space in the form of rooms, lockers or containers on a monthly or annual basis. Safety deposit boxes might be a miniaturized version of self-storage units, where the user could store especially valuable goods or papers in a secure and fire-safe box. These types of services would require little additional overhead or labor hours, although additional security personnel might be needed. Current law limits the Postal Service’s ability to offer services that are considered non-postal and in the past, some industries have resisted Postal Service’s efforts to enter into new business opportunities. However, as the Postal Service faces ongoing financial challenges and continued resistance to consolidation plans, is it time to consider new ways to use its infrastructure? Should the Postal Service be allowed to use its facilities to offer non-traditional services, like self-storage units and safety-deposit boxes? What offerings would you like to see? Do we need to rethink the infrastructure or simply allow the Postal Service to consolidate to match resources to workload?

Comments

I like the idea for the safety deposit / self storage idea. And maybe even not just the 'traditional' self storage but perhaps an almost locker like system ( with some types of security) for say homeless people / hopefully paying for the service via funds or by themselves such as the 'working homeless' / who need small locker storage so they wouldn't have to be bring their precious personal papers and perhaps other smaller stuff like clothes and other personal belongings to work. Also perhaps an area doesn't have more shorter time period locker systems.. maybe a facility can compete for that. And if National Archives doesn't have room or another agency doesn't have time to complete National Archives storage requirements (which isn't that bad but still if for what ever reason maybe the stuff isn't worth officially archiving ) and needs some sort of extra space, they could rent a space at a USPS facility.

The excess space should be used, under the provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, to incarcerate those claiming the USPS is practicing lean six sigma. The excess space should NOT be used to store my downsized casing equipment.

Given its ubiqiotous locations the Postal Service is in a prime position to become local certified testing centers. With the growing online education boom (see Thomas Friedman's 1/17/2012 NY Times piece) the biggest upcoming hurdle will be verification. There is no way to really know who is completing online tests when individuals are sitting at home. Sooner or later somone - or some agency - will need to see the person and witness the completion of some part of the program.
These testing centers WILL come into existence, either by a private company (or psuedo-private company like ETS) or others. The Postal Service will need to move fast to seize this opportunity. Best of luck.

Stop house to house delivery?!!!! Are you kidding me do you realize how many people across America are employed by the USPS? All those jobs lost, ya that will really help the economy, What are u thinking??

This is futile. Gather resources to convert the current LLV fleet to electric. Re-structure the whole of propulsion and energy usage of the last mile delivery. Construct solar car ports for the vehicles, charging stations. The whole network will pay for itself in time. Stop house to house deliveries with the exception of the elderly and disabled.

Temporary vacination centers, emergency centers for homeless, State Motor Vehicle express centers. Always open month of April for tax drop off. State and federal IRS help centers...ever wait in line at the DMV or IRS? How about for unemployment, social services? Basically they could be used for any local, state or federal government activity that requires citizens waiting in long lines (besides mail) which is legion in every state Im sure. Why not take advantage of this infrastructure even if only used for peak demand times of the year? Libraries could use them like they do book mobiles bringing books and computer services to underserved rural areas.

Doesn't USPS have a gargantuan unfunded liability? Sell off all surplus property. Then immediately use the proceeds to rationalize the balance sheet and get off the federal dole. Businesses that stray from their core mission rarely do well.

It is time to sell all surplus and underutilized properties. Too many facilities are leased for more than they are worth. Has everyone forgotten the cost of maintaining the buildings? Ie; Chicago? There would never be enough revenue to cover the cost involved.

Years ago I contacted the Post Master General's office to suggest offering a USPS Gift Card...perfect for anyone serving our nation over seas, school and college bound kids...families with members on fixed incomes and many, many more. At present, American Express cards are on display but that's who generates the income and the financial benefits.

I couldn't break through the bureaucratic with either state representatives serving on postal committees but believe it is still a viable way for the USPS to glean a substantial surge in income relative to costs...why it hasn't been done is a mystery...

My idea to help the USPS raise revenue is to allow people to purchase a money order from the post office and allow someone to pick up the money order at another postal facility. The convenience alone would be wonderful. There are many ways to send money so why couldn't the postal service jump on the bandwagon. The facilities are already there and they would definitely be able to take advantage of the interest that would be accrued between paying for the money order and the time it is picked up.

I am surprised to hear that postal facilities are underused. Whenever I go in them, the lines are long and they are crowded.

But the main thing I want to suggest is that the USPS should consider becoming an e-mail provider to raise revenues. Since mail has largely transitioned to e-mail, it would be completely logical for the USPS to transition to e-mail also. I think there would be a large interest in e-mail through the USPS even if it was a paid service. I'm sure there are many people who would prefer to have a usps e-mail address instead of advertising Google or Hotmail every time they send a message. I would be one of the first to sign up. You could even set up the exact same payment strategy as snail-mail - no charge for an address and for mail receipt, but pay-per fees for sending mail and mail storage. Considering the profits that commercial e-mail providers make, e-mail definitely has the potential to save the USPS's finances.

how do you expect mail handlers to deliver mail with 3 feet of snow in bridgeport ct..and clerks to get htere with roads closed,come on think for a minute..it's a no brainer.STAYED CLOSED!!!

I strongly think they should close some bad facility like the bethpage NY .sorting . people there are goffing off. could not forward mail right.

Here are my suggestions for shuttered post offices:
1. Sell the property
2. Hourly storage lockers with changing rooms/areas - in some locations like NYC (if any are to close there) where "bridge and tunnel" visitors come for the day. They can store evening clothes. Or in resort towns for day trippers to store post beach clothes.
3. Rent space to community organizations for classes such as art, music, writing, professional development, etc.

Is the unused capacit really a surprise with all of the new faiclities they building the last decadeof the 20th centure? Competition for shipping is steep in the civilian sector, and the Post office is poorly managed.

I think that's a great idea!

Yes, suggestions are required from you regarding the companies that provide self storage services in Lawnton. As someone told me that place is very much secure for self storage, and I also want to choose secured place to store my goods safely.

I would like to suggest the postal service create more PO Boxes to help pay the costs of maintaining the property. In addition, I would like to suggest they start an archive service where important, irreplaceable items be kept. Financials and identity docs should be kept at a bank, but photos, diplomas, and other life achievements should be kept at an archive. Like PO boxes, they can be rented long term so that no one will ever be faced with losing everything. More revenue for maintaining a postal service location.

Add new comment

This site provides a forum to discuss different aspects of the United States Postal Service and how it can be improved. We encourage you to share your comments, ideas, and concerns.

This is a moderated site—we will review all comments before posting them. We expect that participants will treat each other with respect. We will not post comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive terms that target specific individuals or groups. We will not post comments that are clearly off-topic or that promote services or products. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted.

We ask that reporters send questions to the USPS OIG Media Office through their normal channels and refrain from submitting questions here as comments. We will not post questions from reporters.

We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Federal resources effectively, however, we will review comments and post them from 9:00 a.m—5:00 p.m Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. We will read and post comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on holidays as early as possible the next business day.

To protect your own privacy, and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information or personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment.

Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on this forum (or any other forums available via an RSS feed) are those of the individual bloggers. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, or the Federal government.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy and disclaimer. We plan to blog weekly on as many emerging new media topics as possible. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.