How Many People Use the Post Office? Does the Postal Service Even Know?

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There’s a new GAO report out this week by the indefatigable Phillip Herr.  It’s called “Action Needed to Maximize Cost-Saving Potential of Alternatives to Post Offices.”  In this week’s Federal Eye column for the Washington Post, Ed O’Keefe writes about the report and poses the question, “How bad is it at the post office? Here are the numbers.” Citing Herr’s … Read More

Out of Thin Air: New Numbers on Declining Mail Volumes

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Someone please give Phil Herr at the GAO a Xanax.  The guy has been focused on USPS doomsday scenarios for so long, it’s apparently making him depressed and clouding his vision.  His new GAO report paints a dire picture of the Postal Service’s future, but it’s based on numbers that seem to be pulled out of thin air. A few … Read More

The OIG tells the post office to get a divorce

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The retail and delivery operations of the post office have been “coupled” for 150 years, ever since the post office started delivering the mail.   Now the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is telling us that these operations should be “decoupled.”  It’s not that the two aren’t getting along — it’s just that the Postal Service could save some … Read More

Who gets hurt when the post office closes?

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One of the main problems with closing thousands of post offices is that the cost and pain are not evenly distributed among the population of the country.  Some people get hurt more than others.  As with most government cutbacks, it’s the poor who get hurt the most.  They’re the ones who live in low-income urban neighborhoods and hardscrabble rural areas … Read More

The Social and Economic Value of Postal Services

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In February of 2010, the Urban Institute completed a study entitled “A Framework for Considering the Social Value of Postal Services” that had been commissioned by the Postal Regulatory Commission.  When it presented its findings, the Urban Institute recommended additional research to quantify the benefits it had identified, and the PRC proceeded to commission three contractors to do six studies … Read More

Post Office for Dummies

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It’s going to be a busy week in our nation’s capital.  On Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Joseph Lieberman, will hold an emergency hearing to prevent a USPS shutdown.  NAPUS says “this is the first time in recent memory that the full Committee, rather than its Postal Subcommittee, will convene a postal hearing.”  Then … Read More

The Postal Service Means Business

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“History Repeats Itself: The Robber Barons of the Middle Ages and the Robber Barons of Today” “The Postal Service has been faced with critical financial problems 
in recent years.”  In the last fiscal year, “Postal Service expenses exceeded revenues” by billions of dollars.  “Although postage rates have increased significantly, labor and fuel costs have risen even faster. . .   Rising payroll … Read More

Let’s Talk: How the Postal Service Values Its Employees

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The Postal Service keeps talking about how it needs to act “like a business,” and that’s why it wants to “optimize” the retail network and “optimize” the workforce by closing thousands of post offices and putting hundreds of thousands out of work.  But what kind of business would treat its customers and employees this way?  What kind of a business … Read More

Leveraging the post office

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Here’s an idea for how to deal with the Postal Service’s financial problem: leverage USPS real estate assets.  In other words, put up our post office buildings and land as collateral for a loan from the Treasury Department.  It’s all laid out in a July 12, 2011 report from the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) entitled “Leveraging Assets to … Read More

Changing the rules in the middle of the game: USPS amends closure regulations

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The Postal Service has just released its “Final rule” to amend 39 CFR Part 241 "to improve the administration of the Post Office closing and consolidation process."  This document is a revision of an earlier one entered into the Federal Register in March.  That version had been widely criticized, and this one responds to the criticisms.  It says the comments … Read More