Key Issues > U.S. Postal Service's Financial Viability
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U.S. Postal Service's Financial Viability

Declining mail volume, annual net losses, and growing debt have contributed to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) deteriorating financial condition and the need to restructure its unsustainable business model.

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Since mail volumes peaked in 2006, USPS’s financial condition has deteriorated as technology and the Internet have changed how businesses and consumers use the mail, resulting in:

  • annual mail volume decline and a 30 percent decline in USPS’s most profitable mail,
  • accumulated losses of $46 billion, and
  • debt totaling the statutory debt ceiling of $15 billion.

USPS’s financial condition has been designated as high risk because USPS’s business model is not viable as USPS cannot fund its current level of services, operations, and obligations from its revenues and urgently needs to restructure to reflect changes in mail volume, revenue, and use of the mail. Congress and USPS need to reach agreement on a comprehensive package of actions to achieve sustainable financial viability. Proposed strategies and options that Congress could consider to better align USPS costs with revenues and address constraints and legal restrictions that limit USPS’s ability to reduce costs and improve efficiency were reported in 2010. USPS issued a 5-year plan that  outlined its strategy for achieving financial viability, and identified legislative changes needed to implement its plan.

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

U.S. Postal Service:

U.S. Postal Service:

Urgent Action Needed to Achieve Financial Sustainability
GAO-13-562T:
Published: Apr 17, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 2013.

U.S. Postal Service:

Status, Financial Outlook, and Alternative Approaches to Fund Retiree Health Benefits
GAO-13-112:
Published: Dec 4, 2012. Publicly Released: Dec 27, 2012.

U.S. Postal Service:

Challenges Related to Restructuring the Postal Service's Retail Network
GAO-12-433:
Published: Apr 17, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 2012.

U.S. Postal Service:

Allocation of Responsibility for Pension Benefits between the Postal Service and the Federal Government
GAO-12-146:
Published: Oct 13, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 13, 2011.

U.S. Postal Service:

Strategies and Options to Facilitate Progress toward Financial Viability
GAO-10-455:
Published: Apr 12, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 2010.

More Reports

U.S. Postal Service:

Delivery Mode Conversions Could Yield Large Savings, but More Current Data Are Needed
GAO-14-444:
Published: May 12, 2014. Publicly Released: May 12, 2014.

U.S. Postal Service:

Action Needed to Address Unfunded Benefit Liabilities
GAO-14-398T:
Published: Mar 13, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 2014.

U.S. Postal Service:

Information on Workforce Injuries Arising During Mail Delivery
GAO-13-847R:
Published: Sep 26, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2013.

U.S. Postal Service:

Health and Pension Benefits Proposals Involve Trade-offs
GAO-13-872T:
Published: Sep 26, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 2013.

U.S. Postal Service:

Urgent Action Needed to Achieve Financial Sustainability
GAO-13-347T:
Published: Feb 13, 2013. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2013.

U.S. Postal Service:

U.S. Postal Service:

Field Offices' Role in Cost-Reduction and Revenue-Generation Efforts
GAO-12-506:
Published: Apr 25, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 2012.

U.S. Postal Service:

Mail Processing Network Exceeds What Is Needed for Declining Mail Volume
GAO-12-470:
Published: Apr 12, 2012. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 2012.

U.S. Postal Service:

Action Needed to Maximize Cost-Saving Potential of Alternatives to Post Offices
GAO-12-100:
Published: Nov 17, 2011. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 2011.

U.S. Postal Service:

Mail Trends Highlight Need to Fundamentally Change Business Model
GAO-12-159SP:
Published: Oct 14, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2011.
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  • portrait of Lorelei St. James
    • Lorelei St. James
    • Director, Physical Infrastructure
    • stjamesl@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-2834