29 April 2010
HIGHLIGHTS UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE
Highlights of this report Suggestions and Recommendations
include a review of Needed to Address Financial Viability,
findings from the
Congressional Research Sustainability, and Stability
Service (CRS) report; a
review of findings from What I Found
Budget Office (CBO) As early as 2005 the CBO addressed the
report; and finally, a challenges that would be faced by USPS in the
review of recent coming decades by performing cost expenditure
projections. With increasing frequency, GAO
(GAO) reports on the
released a series of reports and testimonies as to
fiscal sustainability, the efficacy of financial stability of the
stability, and viability of IAFKJDFLJAFLJAF
USPS by utilizing broad restructuring, taking
the United States Postal aggressive actions, and implementing major cost
Service (USPS), along reductions to progress towards financial viability,
with the challenges the limit losses, and reduce costs. And finally, the
Congress faces in light of CRS proposes alterations to the Congressional
several key factors process, suggests observations and possible
affecting and negatively issues for Congress to adopt to alleviate further
impacting USPS in the deterioration of the United States Postal Service.
past, now, and in the
The CBO letter analysis to the Honorable Judd
Gregg created a long-term analysis bar graph
What I Recommend chart to display the cost savings diminished over
USPS should consider time in four year increments through the year
options that differentiate
2030. In it, analysts suggest and recommend
its services from its
competitors including that the savings from bill S.622 shown as pension
DHL, FedEx, UPS, and and escrow provisions do indeed fall over a 25
Mailboxes, Etc. In the year period while at the same time costs
minds of consumers, there increase grow, and exceed the rate of return.
is no such distinction, Thus, the savings associated with changes to the
thus, no competitive or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the
economic advantage to escrow fund will continue to fall while costs rise
the public using any
organization as a
faster than inflation. CBO offers two
substitute rather than as a alternatives to the trajectory, and the consumer
complementary good and price index (CPI) is used to measure different
service. In terms of aspects of inflation to demonstrate how costs
economics, a profitable can be offset in an analyses of spending versus
business model for USPS revenues in the same time period. 1
would be to differentiate
its goods and services so
that substitution does not GAO completed seven (7) reports in 2009, each
occur, and therefore, it addressing the need of USPS to restructure its
can gain a competitive operations in light of deteriorating finances.
advantage in any Most recently, analysts suggest the business
economy, but especially
during an economic
model itself is not viable due to increasing costs and decreasing revenues. One
suggestion to the Congress includes the option to provide financial relief. 2
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) in August 2009 conducted a study and
analysis of steps the Congress could take to alleviate the financial pressures upon
the USPS. Policy suggestions to the Congress included amending law to appropriate
funds permanently to the agency, amend law to avert facility closures, or enact
other policies not yet in action which would ameliorate deficits and disparities that
serve to confuse the public or otherwise undermine efforts to reign in cost-cutting
MY SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The suggestions I put forward are a combination of marketing and educational
alternatives in light of the current U.S. and global economic situation. These
measures can reduce costs in lieu of the legislative “policy lag” problem inherent in
changing or amending current laws to aid the United States Postal Service, and may
serve to ultimately reduce pollution, educate the general public, and improve
government-consumer relations. They are as follows:
1. The postal service should begin an advertising campaign to show the American
public (and the world) how reliable its many services are in comparison to the many
ways of communication we have with others who live/work long distances away.
USPS should demonstrate the value of global 24/7/365 business and communication
(or, alternately information communication technologies) in the digital age.
2. USPS can also graphically display the cost savings of consumers by demonstrating
the relatively low costs of sending and receiving a postal letter, and how the postal
stamp has evolved, yet remains relevant, timely, and cost effective in spite of the
many miles a letter can travel on the cost of one stamp.
3. Another way to do so would be to illustrate the differences between a mailed
letter and an electronic message. While electronic mail is considered one of the de
facto methods of communication in the digital age, perhaps the U.S. postal service
can show the public the differences: legal, regulatory, and reliability.
4. The postal service can incorporate an interactive feature on its website for the
public that quickly shows the various cost methods available in comparison to its
competition: DHL, FedEx, UPS, and Mailboxes, Etc.
5. Reinvent the post office as a one-stop shop for 24/7/365 delivery and receipt of
mailed items. Right now, one can shop for posters; purchase stamps, moving
supplies, and boxes; get identification (taking pictures and filling out
documentation); make copies (if available at a location), and pay on P.O. boxes.
These services should be shown as value-added services to the public where there is
continuity of design incorporated into the building. At this time, each post office
building aesthetic is different – each has a different layout and there is no
awareness on the part of the consumer that the post office has a standard design, or
that a particular building design signifies a particular kind of service offering. This
should be changed.
6. While building consolidation is all the rage in business in an economic downturn,
it should be done with constraint. Variables such as current population and
marketing should be considered when looking at whether or not to close, update, or
otherwise expand services in a given area. A survey instrument should be created
that captures relevant information to make an informed decision as to whether or
not a particular building/facility should be closed
7. USPS should design a better receptacle for mail collection as the mailbox is
“dated”. Many are old, there is no GPS system to track where they are located (for
the public) and it is unknown whether or not mail is even picked up from some of
them anymore. Several have the appearance of being dirty, ill-kept, and full of
graffiti which does not foster confidence that one should leave mail there. Many
times I simply travel to the main post office to avoid the mailbox(es), and I know
several other people who do the same.
8. CBO, GAO, and CRS are three agencies which provide support to the Congress in
its decision-making. As such, each has identified via study, interviews, and
testimony many steps that could be taken to alleviate some of the problems faced by
the postal service in light of fiscal viability and sustainability. While many of the
recommendations will require congressional action, the outlook of U.S.P.S. must be
seen as that which will continue to improve transparency, oversight, and
accountability to the American (and global) public which uses its services.
9. As the oldest and first mail delivery service began right after the Second
Continental Congress in the 1770s, the U.S.P.S. has the duty to provide the most
state-of-the-art services such as tracking, purchasing, delivery, receipt,
confirmation, insurance, shipping, and mailing services available today.
10. The postal service should consider shared space leasing options such as found
with financial institutions and grocery stores; food services and (gas)
service/convenience stations; and the shared space of Yum Brands which finds Taco
Bell and KFC in the same building as a cost saving effort. While U.S.P.S. does not
have different brands, it could offer its menu of services in much the same manner,
differentiating itself from its competitors in this way.
11. The “second oldest federal agency” in the United States has a history of
excellence and flexibility needed to adapt in changing conditions, and should be
recruiting talents to proactively mitigate and solve challenging problems now and in
the future. The organization has a history of utilizing state-of-the-art technologies
including the steam engine, horse-drawn sled, and transcontinental airplane. It
should continue this tradition in the digital age.
12. The other one stop shop could be the actual mail carrier. I submit that most
people do not know that stamps can be home-delivered, and that most mail supplies
can be as well. This should be public knowledge, and would be seen as an added-
value feature of utilizing the postal service in lieu of other organizations.
13. Stamp machine kiosks and the automated postal centers (APCs) should be in other
retail establishments. In fact, everywhere there is a vending machine, there should
be an APC. The USPS should consider business agreements to broaden the facilities
(buildings) in which kiosks and APCs reside. Of course, marketing informational
surveys should be created and conducted on a wide scale to determine the best
economies of scale and to identify appropriate retail facilities where substantial costs
could be recouped in a short period.
14. Finally, the elimination of the mailbox and the establishment of the APC in retail
outlets, along with the mail carrier as the one stop shopping center would eliminate
two of the highest costs of the organization: human resources (people) and gas. It
would increase green energy and substantially decrease pollution as less
transportation costs would be used to transport people and mail across long distances.
It would also serve to educate the public as to the efficacy of self-service
technologies (SSTs) such as those currently being utilized in grocery stores, with the
intent of improving customer service and saving substantial costs on employee labor.
Information on the Competition
DHL is the global market leader of the international express and logistics industry,
specializing in providing innovative and customized solutions from a single source.
FedEx: Independently, each company offers flexible, specialized services that
represent the broadest array of supply chain, transportation, business and related
UPS, United Parcel Service: We have become the world's largest package delivery
company and a leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics
services. Worldwide express carrier and package delivery company. UPS is a global
provider of specialized transportation and logistics services.
Mailboxes, Etc.: A UPS® company, is the world's largest franchiser of retail shipping,
postal and business service centers.
1 - Congressional Budget Conclusion
Office. (2005). The Effects While the Congress has within its power to create,
of S. 662 on the Long-Term change, and otherwise amend laws it is not always
a timely exercise and as such, other options should
Financial Outlook of the U.S.
be considered. The alternatives I offer suggest
Postal Service. Washington, that the legislative lag of proposing change,
D.C.: Congressional Budget garnering support for it, and passing law are
Office. lengthy and may very well lack the necessary
impact originally intended. By the time the full
2 - Government impact of the law is felt, the original problem it
Accountability Office. (2010). was designed to solve (1) may no longer exist, (2)
U.S. Postal Service: may not exist to the degree it once did, or (3) may
have changed altogether. Instead, USPS should
Strategies and Options to seek from a menu of choices put together by
Facilitate Progress toward industry analysts, weighing each fairly and in a
Financial Viability (GAO-10- non-partisan manner, and coming to an informed
455). Washington, D.C.: decision based on the facts which will ultimately
Government Accountability result in better transparency, oversight, and
Office. accountability in government services to the
3 - Kosar, K. (2009). Post
Office and Retail Postal Facility
Closures: Overview and Issues
for Congress (CRS# R40719).
Hello and thank you for reading my five page
report, “United States Postal Service: Suggestions
and Recommendations Needed to Address Financial
Viability, Sustainability, and Stability”.
Alina J. Johnson, MSI
Also on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alinajjohnson
Also on Slideshare: www.slideshare.net/Alina01