The U.S. Postal Service continues to face financial and transformation challenges. Since GAO placed the Service's long-term outlook and transformation efforts on its high-risk list, the Service's financial situation has continued to decline, and its operational challenges have increased. The Service took a good first step when it issued its Transformation Plan. The plan provides information about the Service's challenges, identifies many actions the Service plans to take under its existing authority, and outlines steps that would require congressional action. The plan does not, however, adequately address some key issues or include an action plan with key milestones. The catastrophic events of September 11 and subsequent anthrax scares, coupled with the recent economic slowdown, have decreased mail volumes and revenues. However, the Service's financial difficulties are not just a cyclical phenomenon that will fade as the economy recovers. The Service's basic business model, which assumes that rising mail volume will cover rising costs and mitigate rate increases, is questionable as mail volumes stagnate or deteriorate in an increasingly competitive environment. The Service's Transformation Plan recognizes that postal costs are rising faster than revenues and identifies many actions that the Service plans to take under its existing authority, notably through cutting costs and improving productivity.
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