You’ve probably noticed that wherever you go in this country, it’s pretty easy to find a post office. After all, the U.S. Postal Service has the largest retail network in the country, using its more than 31,000 locations to provide vital services like mailing and shipping, passport processing, and money orders to the American public. But did you ever wonder if post offices produce enough revenue to cover their operating costs?

A new OIG white paper, Revenue and Costs in the Retail Network, looked into this very question. Our research found that overall, USPS-managed post offices generated about twice as much revenue as they cost to run. These findings varied widely by individual post office, with 42 percent of post offices nationwide not producing enough revenue to cover their retail costs. In rural areas, 60 percent of offices did not cover their costs.

We identified opportunities to increase revenues and reduce costs. For example, the Postal Service could explore expanding the number of services it offers at the retail counter. The Postal Service already partners with government agencies to provide services at some post offices, such as providing fingerprinting in coordination with the FBI, and it could broaden these offerings. In addition, the Postal Service could lease unused space in post offices to government agencies or private businesses, allowing it to earn more revenue while providing helpful services such as health kiosks. The Postal Service could also consider outsourcing the operation of more post offices, a cost‑saving strategy used by some international posts. 

Tell us what you think. What services would you like to see offered at your local post office? Are there other ways in which USPS could cut the operating costs of or increase revenues at post offices?

Comments (8)

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  • anon

    this article is describing the post office as if it were a business. Let us be 100% clear here. The post office is a public service. Not a business. Its mission is to serve the public. It is funded by both consumers of the service as well as the federal government to keep services affordable for consumers. Your attempt to change the postal service from a public service to a business just reveals a disgusting agenda to undermine the mail, and any inspector general of this mindset is unworthy of their office and needs to resign.

    May 22, 2021
  • anon

    Good post thanks for share information.

    Apr 25, 2021
  • anon

    I’m a USPS employee and I love the agency. When I was a kid, I followed my grandma out to the mailbox 6 days a week so she could talk to our carrier, and it really seemed like there was a social component to the whole thing. It wasn’t just about getting that day’s mail, but rather, she kept up on all the latest happenings in the neighborhood. So for me, it’s really important that USPS is allowed to diversify and offer more services. I think some of the most realistic ones are notary services, scan / copy services, and maybe a photo machine that ppl could use to print out photos. Those probably aren’t huge moneymakers, but I think a big step would be offering services that ppl can use at a post office. As it stands, a lot of ppl just move on to one of our competitors bc they offer a service that we don’t offer.

    Apr 24, 2021
  • anon

    In rural areas we often only have 1 option for Internet. High speed hasn't been heard of yet. Every post office has a satellite connection, it would still involve 3rd party but let the Post Office supply affordable high speed Internet to these rural areas.

    Apr 19, 2021
  • anon

    Fax and copy services; notary services; combine and office space with each States Division of Motor Vehicles; and actually abolish the federal amendment so the Postal Service can accept and deliver wine and alcohol to compete with FEDEX AND UPS;

    Apr 19, 2021
  • anon

    You have lost a lot of business because you do not do collection pick-up routes from businesses late in the afternoon like UPS or FedEx. Many places do not have their outgoing mail ready early in the morning.

    Apr 19, 2021
  • anon

    That's what the big blue mail boxes are for. You'll find them in most business areas. We do have a truck that goes around and collects from those boxes 6 days a week.

    May 27, 2021
  • anon

    where exactly are the late afternoon routes and postal services at in rural county retail areas? FedEx and UPS has always been one step ahead with there logistics and newer model looking vehicles, but I believe with the right dates,times,and location the older vehicles of the postal service will give those newer models and good run for the title of best delivery vehicle member of the USA, what do you think Jack R?

    Apr 23, 2021

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