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Highlights

The foreign postal operators (foreign posts) in industrialized countries in GAO's review have been experiencing declining letter mail volumes and have modernized their delivery and retail networks to address this challenge. As requested, GAO reviewed the innovations and initiatives that foreign posts are using and the lessons the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) might learn to help it address plummeting mail volumes and record financial losses. This report examines initiatives foreign posts have implemented to improve mail delivery and retail networks and related results, and modernization strategies used by foreign posts that can inform consideration of proposals to improve USPS's financial condition and customer service. GAO selected foreign posts in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland as case studies based on characteristics, such as delivery and retail changes and country size and location. GAO reviewed foreign posts' documents, including annual reports and strategic plans related to delivery and retail network changes and innovations. GAO met with foreign post officials, toured their retail facilities, received briefings on their delivery and retail networks and other areas, and met with regulators, labor unions, and mailers to obtain their views on the effects of their posts' modernization efforts. USPS generally agreed with GAO's findings and mentioned both its own modernization efforts and the barriers it faces.

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