USPS Communications Manager for the Atlanta District Michael Miles confirmed that “behind-the-scenes” changes will reassign how mail is distributed. Come August, letter carriers currently operating out of the White and Rydal post offices will pick up mail from Cartersville and Waleska, respectively. The changes will limit distribution runs from larger USPS facilities to rural areas.
“We are looking to make our delivery operations a lot more efficient by taking post offices that are fairly close to each other and where we have letter carriers who serve the community out of those offices, we’re moving them to one office,” Miles said. “That way, when we dispatch mail out from the area from our processing plant in Duluth, as an example, instead of having to send trucks to two or three different offices, we send them to one location. The operation of the actual post office itself does not change.
“Customers don’t really see a difference. The post office is still there, the hours are still the same, it’s just that the carriers work out of a different office. The same carriers will still deliver to the same area. So it’s kind of a behind-the-scenes operation.”
Distribution consolidations, such as those planned for White and Rydal, are a part of the USPS five-year business plan released in April. Some 1,500 consolidations are expected to take place by 2015 in addition to route optimization efforts.
“That’s not scheduled to take effect for another two or three months,” Miles said. “And again, we’ve done this in quite a few offices across north Georgia and for the most part, customers don’t realize it’s happened because it doesn’t affect how they do business.”
The USPS has been in dire straits financially for many years with declining mail volume and stamp sales due to electronic communication in addition to restrictive limitations placed on the postal service by Congress. Unable to adapt a “broken business model” due to Congressional restraints, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified before a House committee in April about how inflexibility is crippling the USPS.
“Our financial problems are due to the restrictive laws that prevent us from fully responding to changes in consumer behavior,” Donahoe testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Any private sector company could quickly adapt to the market changes we have experienced, and remain profitable. However, we do not have all of the flexibility we need to adapt to a changing marketplace.”
Chiefly among the requirements are rising healthcare costs outpacing the private sector and a Congressionally mandated pre-funded retirement account. The 2006 mandate totaled $94 billion, with payments requiring the postal service to max out its borrowing limit at $15 billion, an $11 billion increase since 2007, and default on an $11.1 billion retirement pre-funding payment due last year.
“If we don’t gain this flexibility, our losses will continue and we risk becoming a significant burden to the taxpayer. It’s just that simple,” Donahoe said in his closing remarks to the House committee. “Mr. Chairman, we need Congress to affirmatively grant us the authority to operate the Postal Service in a financially responsible manner. We need full authority to carry out our responsibility to provide universal service to our nation.
“Every day we record a loss of $25 million dollars, every day our financial hole gets that much deeper. We cannot stay on our current path.”
In addition to rising costs, the USPS is facing revenue losses and also seeks from Congress the flexibility to adapt their business model in relation to customer service. Five-year projections prepared by the USPS show sales remaining steady or declining for most products — specifically First-Class mail, the organization’s largest product — with an exception in shipping and package sales, which are expected to increase by 5 to 6 percent each year. This trend has led the USPS to recommend a switch to five-day mail delivery and six-day package delivery, which Congress has yet to allow.
For more information, visit www.usps.com.