But I’m backed up by no less an authority than the Government Accountability Office, which last week reiterated its long-standing advocacy of such downsizing. Its latest report on the subject is titled “Network Rightsizing Needed to Help Keep USPS Financially Viable”. Some highlights:
- “It is important for USPS to make significant progress in consolidating its networks and reducing excess capacity or it may face more drastic cost-cutting options and have less time to achieve necessary cost reductions.” With 160,000 employees eligible for retirement this year and another 130,000 in the next four years, the Postal Service can accomplish much of its downsizing via attrition rather than layoffs, the report indicates.
- “We reported in 2005 that USPS had substantial excess capacity in its mail processing network. Long-term trends have further increased excess capacity in the processing network such as continuing automation, declining volume of single-piece First-Class Mail (e.g., bill payments, personal correspondence), and destination entry of Standard Mail . . . that reduces the need for USPS mail processing and long-distance transportation of mail."
- “New automation equipment enables USPS to sort mail faster and more efficiently, a development that, with declining mail volumes, has resulted in more equipment downtime. In addition, new equipment, referred to as the Flats Sequencing System, will sort flat-sized mail (e.g., large envelopes, catalogs, and magazines) into delivery order, which is expected to reduce the need for space-intensive manual sorting at delivery units. Because delivery units are often co-located with post offices, branches, and stations, eliminating the excess space could involve relocating or consolidating retail activities.”
- “However, USPS has closed only 1 of its approximately 400 major mail processing facilities. USPS has often faced resistance from employees, affected communities, and Members of Congress when it has attempted to consolidate its operations and networks. In enacting PAEA [postal reform], Congress recognized USPS had more facilities than it needs and strongly encouraged streamlining its networks, noting this can pave the way for eliminating excess costs. Continued congressional support for necessary closures would be helpful to facilitate progress in this area."