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.
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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).

Comments (8)

  • anon

    I think the barriers to change outlined above are right on the money. I'd like to see better efficiency at USPS locations. Thanks.

    Feb 17, 2012
  • anon

    I believe in USPS but closing retail outlets is going in the wrong direction. The only true way to gain lost ground is look at what UPS and others are doing and then think of what it is they are not doing, and find the void. Fill the need that society at large is in need of. I have in the past directed a company from dismal of 130k a year to more than 600k a year simply by analyzing out dated items - and most of all asking customers what items they would like to see stocked, i also shopped our competitors sales and gauged what items were selling best, simply put I made the customer service feel personalized and welcomed. always insuring i had everything in stock and price points listed and posted. i have found people do not like asking the price for something, most are too embarrassed and just leave with out having their questions answered. look at your history and see if your real down turn was due to the competition and changing world or was it your pull back from customer service, i'e-available locations and ease of drop off and pick up. thank you. sincerely; sheon slaughter, oakland ca.

    Jul 26, 2011
  • anon

    Here, in a nutshell, is why the USPS is doomed to fail. I just tried, for the 1st time, to purchase stamps on your website. After registering and ordering a book of 20 stamps I got "Sorry, our credit card application is experiencing difficulties processing your card. Please try again later." Well, I did try again and I got the same response. I might but I probably won't try again. If I do, it'll only be for the sake of a couple of very hard working friends of mine who happen to work for the USPS. Just in case you're not yet aware of it, you are "up against it", in every imaginable regard. Your lunch is being eaten, gleefully, by others even while you read this. Bottom line: If you hope to survive, you simply cannot allow such a total failure to happen, ..... EVER ..... however large or small the opportunity may be. I'll get my stamps, one way or another, but I won't be buying any more than 20 at a time.

    Jul 24, 2011
  • anon

    How can we get some oversight from the Office of the Inspector? Approx three months ago there was an event at the 96815 Waikiki post office where during the night trash including a car battery was left in the lobby. This was treated as a Terroristic threat. The lobby is well protested with surveillance cameras which should have provided everything necessary for investigators to have resolved the problem! Instead an overreaction was made and the facility is locked after 7 pm. This blocks access to the automated postage machine and oversize mail box. When I complained to staff they told me they were going to be building a special enclosure to allow nighttime entry to those with po boxes. This will not do anything to solve the loss of access for me as the key or code to entry will just be for boxholders. I rely on the nighttime postage and shipping for my business. Waikiki employees just say go to the next closest machine in Kahala which is 15 min out of my way each direction. Kahala's Automated Postage Machine has been offline for two months and Kahala rather than put a sign on the machine out of order, allow it to sit there with a "Temporarily Out Of Service" message on screen. Thinking that it may be uploading the days activity I have waited over and hour on two occasions hoping it will restore itself? It never did and finally after a third drive out to Kahala and finding the machine again said Temp.- out of service I called their office the following day and was told by Roxanne " Oh yea were aware it not working", she said " we've been unable to get it back up for a while but were still working on it". Please take whatever measures necessary in the Waikiki Main PO and re open the lobby for full access.

    Jul 22, 2011
  • anon

    There is one area that appears to be slanted in your report. You assume that a "Post Office" has only one function that of being a "retail network" and hence should be modeled after all Retail Companies. Nothing could be further from the truth. A "Post Office" houses carrier operations clerk distribution opeartsion and a retail counter most of the work being accomplished inside a "Post Office" fall to the first two categories I list, In fact about 15% is the average time spent on "retai" in a post office. Do you close a post office because 15% of its work load might be shifted to alternate retail sources???? In addition a "Post Office" is the last link in the chain of the distribution model of the postal service. To move post offices further away from its main core of work is fulfilling a self desired result. Hence your report is flawed. Go to a post office and ask the customers what they want done with "their" post office. Most like the town name on the building and the convienence they now have. In addition a Post Office may not take in money in fact most do not. The bulk of USPS Revenue comes from mailing houses in major areas of the country. Yet the work load is spread through out the entire postal service. Should we close a Post Office that is small yet because it has a major banking facility within its domain and makes 30 times what it takes in? Yet close a larger post office because it does the same amount of retail revenue yet is missing that banking facility and therfore loses money????? WHAT NEEDS TO BE FULLY CONSIDERED IS THAT THE USPS IS PART OF THE US CONSTITUTION AND AS SUCH UNTIL CHANGED BY CONGRESS IS A 'SERVICE' PROVIDED TO THE PUBLIC.. not witholding to a monetary figure.

    Jul 05, 2011
  • anon

    Here's something you'd better keep you're eyes on..... And, I'm certain you've thought of it. It's called confidence in you're organization, and it's structure....... WorkSafe B.C. has moved 2,500 clients to direct deposit payments instead of mailed cheques since the Canada Post labour dispute began, as the postal shutdown adds impetus to a continuing trend. The number of requests for direct deposit has grown from about 40 a day to 500 a day in the past few weeks, says WorkSafe B.C. "We are very encouraged by that trend but there's still lots of people who want a printed cheque," said Scott McCloy, WorkSafe B.C.'s director of communications. Canada Post locked out 50,000 employees and suspended operations across the country last Tuesday following 12 days of rotating strikes. The federal government introduced back-to-work legislation Monday to force an end to the work stoppage. It said it was prepared to limit debate in Parliament so that the law is passed as early as this week. Read more:

    Jun 23, 2011
  • anon

    "confidence in you’re organization, and it’s structure" A bit off topic. But agree. I believe the USPS has started down the slippery slope in public confidence. I will add as an employee, it is disheartening to "attempt" to portray confidence in the USPS ability when we are having an increase of delivery failures. We're a small office and just this week had to customer complaints of "where is my package?". BOTH were stuck in plants processed over and over again. One in Philly, scanned 8 days in a row and another in Chicago 6 days. Our normal complaints of "where is my mail?", which is generally a COA issue and is surpassed by processing. Customers are LOOKING for errors, we don't need to provide them with the answer that it is our inability to perform.

    Jul 20, 2011
  • anon

    What is up with the postal service in Rogers Arkansas 72756? One day we recieve no mail delivery at all, the next we get our mail at 6:00p.m. Our mail may come at 10a.m. or 8p.m. It would be nice to have a regular delivery time.

    Jun 09, 2011

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