The U.S. Postal Service owns or leases more than 33,000 facilities with approximately 284 million interior square feet (SF). These facilities are in virtually every community throughout the country and range in size from 55 SF to 32 acres under one roof. We visited 717 of these facilities as part of 10 facility optimization audits and identified over 21 million excess SF of space. During our subsequent national facility optimization audit, we statistically projected that the Postal Service has about 67 million SF of excess space nationwide.
In addition to an abundance of space, recent audits have disclosed that there are unmanned or underused windows in post offices around the nation, as well as more workhours at retail facilities than needed based on fiscal year 2011 workloads.
The solution most often suggested for dealing with these excess resources is to consolidate and close facilities. In fact, the Postal Service is in the process of identifying both retail and mail processing facilities for closure or consolidation.
While closures and consolidations can reduce the supply of these excess resources, there may also be opportunities to use this excess capacity to expand the services provided in local communities through partnerships with federal, state, and local governments or with private companies. Government services could be provided at post offices through kiosks or by training Postal Service employees to provide these services. The Postal Service could also offer excess window space to government agencies where their employees could assist customers.
Another possibility would be for the Postal Service to partner with private sector companies to provide non-postal services. These companies could offer services ranging from fax and photocopying to banking or other financial services. These services could also include selling commercial products at retail facilities or providing warehousing and order fulfillment services at larger facilities.
What do you think? What services would you like offered at Postal Service facilities? Are there any other potential uses for these facilities? Please share your ideas in the comment section below.
This blog is hosted by the OIG's Audit Engineering Team.