U.S. Postal Service: Ending Saturday Delivery Would Reduce Costs, but Comprehensive Restructuring Is Also Needed

GAO-11-270 Published: Mar 29, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 2011.
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The U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) financial outlook has deteriorated as customers have shifted to electronic alternatives. Mail volumes have declined over 20 percent since fiscal year 2006 and are expected to continue declining. To help its financial outlook, in March 2010, USPS presented a detailed proposal to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to move from a 6-day to a 5-day delivery schedule. USPS projected this would save about $3 billion annually and reduce mail volume by less than l percent. This proposal factors in widespread changes to USPS's workforce and networks. USPS has also asked Congress to not include language in its annual appropriation requiring 6 day-a-week delivery. As requested, GAO assessed (1) USPS's cost and volume estimates and the operational impacts associated with its 5-day delivery proposal and (2) the trade-offs and other implications associated with this proposal. GAO reviewed USPS's proposal (including its assumptions, methodologies, and conclusions) and other information from the PRC's 5-day delivery proceeding, surveyed postal employee and mailer groups, and interviewed USPS officials and postal employee groups. Because GAO previously recommended that Congress consider providing financial relief to USPS, as well as other cost-saving options, this report contains no new recommendations. USPS generally agreed with GAO's findings and provided additional context on its proposed change to end Saturday delivery.

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