Under extreme review are 4000 small post offices.
Clinton, KY. Dec. 18, 2012 Zip Code 42031
The post office, like an aging battleship, is seeking a safe port in the storm. Of course the era of great battleships is long gone. But in their day, they ruled the oceans with their power and national pride. Progress and technical innovation (aircraft carriers) did them in.
Much of the same problem confronts the modern day post office.
For over 200 years it has been the charge of the United States Post Office to maintain a national system for moving the mail of Americans from coast to coast at an affordable rate. During that time, the mail, the network to move the mail, and the people who handled the mail gave the nation a true infrastructure for linking rural Main Street into and with big city Wall Street.
Somewhere in the latter part of the 1990's, Congress decided to semi-privatize the postal system. This set up an advisory system between postal management and postal workers over contracts, pensions, hours and routes worked. Somewhere in all this, the idea of full postal service for all Americans, no matter where they live, was tossed aside for "progress."
Thus began a race to the bottom.
Now, after these years of semi-privatization, the US Post Office stands before Congress and the American public holding a knife to its own throat, threatening to kill itself off in the name of better management.
For 2012, the US Postal System will report a 15.9 billion dollar loss in revenue. This is an all time high. Even taking out the 7 billion that Congress has mandated to be prepaid into the USPS retirement fund, the mounting losses are forcing many in Washington to contemplate an America without post offices.
A year ago, the master minds within the Postal System made the announcement that in order to gain control over the mounting losses, they would close several thousand small inner city and rural post offices. This would cut out heavy personnel costs and site location costs.
This strategy was nothing more than an declaration of war on small town America. Across the nation, people fought back. Congress was dealt another black eye as the public said no to closing their lifeline to the outside world.
The Post Office and Congress blinked. They gave in to the will of the people.
So now there is another strategy being floated for consideration. This new strategy is called "POSTPlan" or the downsizing of the Postal System.
Under extreme review are 4,000 small post offices. They will live to see another day, but must make a decision of just how that day will be structured.
Richard Watkins, spokesperson for the Kansas city USPS recently said, "It's important so that postal service cannot only maintain its presence in thousands of mostly rural communities nationwide, but that also we can look at saving significant money going forward."
The issue that he talked about was the reduction of hours for rural post offices to be open.
"We know how much revenue comes into our post offices. And that's important, again, because we're not tax supported, and we also know how many retail transactions are being made each day. And in some locations we were, in effect, paying a postmaster to be 'on call,' to sell a handful of stamps each day."
The answer for this kind of management problem is to reinvent a new system of integrating postal service into high volume places where people travel each day. Last year, about 35 percent of its retail revenue came from sources other than traditional post offices. This included grocery and convenience stores or online sales. This year, that figure had reached 40 percent of sales.
The post office higher ups are giving each local small volume post office four options: (1) to keep their local offices with reduced hours of operation (2) to close offices but keep rural and city mail routes (3) to close offices and use an alternative retail spot like a grocery store, and (4) to just close up and use another post office.
None of the choices are good.