A number of media news articles in the last year have examined reductions in Post Office retail hours around the country. They report that some Post Offices are cutting back or eliminating Saturday hours, opening late in the morning or closing earlier in the afternoon during the week. The Postal Service faces significant legal and political constraints when it tries to close Post Offices, but faces few constraints when it acts to cut back on the hours a facility is open. However, eliminating hours amounts to a partial scaling back of retail service.
In a time when everyone is examining the dollars and cents of the postal business, people have a tendency to overlook the bigger picture: the greater role of the Postal Service in modern society. With that in mind, the Postal Regulatory Commission requested the Urban Institute to study the Postal Service. The focus was not a traditional look at the business but a study of the benefits of the Postal Service and its infrastructure to the American population.
In the past 18 years, the Postal Service has reorganized its field structure at least three times. In 1992, the Postal Service reorganized its field structure from five regions and 73 field divisions into 10 areas and 85 districts. From 2002-2006 the Postal Service changed its field structure to nine areas and 80 districts, and adjusted again in 2009 to eight areas and 74 districts.
“If it fits, it ships.” If this sounds familiar, you probably heard it from the Postal Service’s Priority Mail® Flat Rate advertising campaign broadcasted on TV or radio. The Flat Rate option offers a simpler way to ship — whatever fits in the flat rate box or envelope (up to 70 pounds) ships for one rate to anywhere in the United States. There is virtually no weighing or calculating. The packages reach their destinations in 1 to 3 days. Normally, Priority Mail prices are based on weight and destination.
Recent Government Accountability Office testimony to Congress stated processing capacity for First-Class Mail exceeds processing needs by 50 percent, and analysis by industry experts indicates an additional drop of 35 billion pieces in First-Class Mail by 2020. With mail volume declining, does this provide an opportunity for the Postal Service to capture savings by adopting industry best practices in its First-Class Mail processing operations?