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. The abstract and the final report, both of which were released last week, cites “…the postal system has had a civic as well as an economic mandate that legislators and regulators interpret with changing times and circumstances in mind. An independent agency of the executive branch, the USPS opens access to information for preserving democracy, fostering commerce, and promoting the general welfare. It’s a public good and a great equalizer insofar as it serves rich and poor, urban and rural, young and old, unhealthy and hale.” The report’s author, Nancy Pindus, found eight types of benefits: •Consumer benefits – Provides price competition for other delivery services and access to goods for the underserved. •Business benefits - Provides a logistical component for smaller businesses, an advertising channel serving a spectrum of businesses, and as a center of commerce in communities (through post offices). •Safety and security - Offers mail carriers’ role within the neighborhood and places the Postal Service in a position to assist in emergencies or in cases of natural disaster. •Environmental benefits – Acts as a test site in exploring environmental products and services; provides last-mile service to other delivery companies and utilizes post offices as centers for recycling efforts in many communities. •Aid in the delivery of other government services – Functions as an intermediary for government services on local, state, and Federal levels. •Information exchange – Holds a traditional role of democratically disseminating information, whether through periodicals, community groups or other channels. Post offices also serve as center for posting of community notices. •Social links – Delivers personal communications, carriers provide a regular link to the community for a number or people, post offices are a center for local contact and identity. •Civic pride – Serves as the only representative of Federal government in many areas, often tied into an area’s community identity. [poll id="107"] In your opinion, have any roles been overlooked? Should any of these roles be eliminated and if so, why? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

Comments (5)

  • anon

    Yes, the USPS should attract business. It wants its employees (carriers etc.) to "find" new revenue opportunities. Many are found and not all will use carrier pick-up services, and if the smaller boats in the sea cannot get to the post office, they'll find another port to use. The smaller boats may not bring in as much revenue as the medium and larger boats, but who knows what their future may become? The USPS needs to service all the boats.

    Jun 18, 2010
  • anon

    There is still a place for the Postal Service in this modern world. I still prefer sending my packages via USPS then the alternatives.

    Jun 08, 2010
  • anon

    We don't need the postal service. do away with it. why not just put a letter in a bottle and put in the ocean and let the current take it. There is just as much chance of it getting to the right place as there is the postal service delivering it.

    Jun 03, 2010
  • anon

    The study commissioned by the PRC speaks directly to the issues confronting the Postal Service. The idea that the Postal service is simply a business entity and ought to be looked at only from the viewpoint of profit and loss is risible. No other business operates under anything like our universal mandate. no other business is required to provide preferential treatment ot non-profits and specific classes of product. Supposedly some of those disadvantages are counterbalanced by the 'mailbox monopoly" but the value of that monopoly is questionable at best. The USPS represents an integral piece of our national infrastructure and even with electronic diversion the ability to go to every address every day is significant. Rather than trying to be something it cannot be the Postal Service can find ways to preserve its structure and role in society by focusing on the asset value of its network. There are opportunities to cooperate with government entities at all levels,local,state, and federal for the delivery of services. Reimagining ourselves more appropriately as a national asset would allow the Postal Service to create a financially viable model that preserves our institutional value, integrity and mission.

    Jun 03, 2010
  • anon

    Why not deliver mail on " Odd - Even " days!! Odd addresses on odd days and even addresses on even days. There might be times that any given address could go 5 days without mail, but that wouldn't be all that bad. If there's mail that has to be delivered in a couple days, charge a little extra for it.

    Jun 02, 2010

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