April 3, 2013 (04032013)
Traditional interpretation of the Postal Service's mission of "binding the nation together" has limited it to the delivery of paper mail and parcels. Increasingly though, digital alternatives to hard copy communications has prompted individuals and businesses to search for new communication and commerce solutions. At the same time, the Postal Service faces many challenges that have contributed to its deteriorating financial condition, including the loss of mail volume because of electronic diversion, large retiree health benefits prefunding payments, and the failure to quickly adapt to the changing world. The Postal Service is at a critical juncture and needs to identify solutions to address these challenges.
Decisions need to be made about whether the Postal Service should evolve to meet changing demands, or sustain its traditional role by shrinking to align the network with decreased demand for delivery of paper-based products and services. The options for addressing the Postal Service's outstanding challenges are often complicated by the unique nature of the organization, as a self-funded, independent entity of the federal government.
This paper gives readers an overview of the major issues faced by the Postal Service, and the short- and long-term options under discussion to help the Postal Service recover. First, the document identifies Levers of Action the Postal Service could take to help cut costs and generate additional revenue. Next, the document outlines the struggles the Postal Service faces as a result of its lack of Mission Clarity. Until stakeholders clarify the role of the Postal Service in an environment increasingly reliant on digital means of communication, it cannot fulfill its mission to "bind the nation together" in a new era.
This document is not intended to advocate for adoption of one option over another, but rather to give the reader an understanding of the Postal Service's current financial and operational challenges, as well as possible future directions.