STILLWATER, Okla. — Julie Gosdin
USPS Distict Manager, Oklahoma
To the editor:
This is in reference to the article entitled, “Postal Service is far from a loser,” (by Jim Hightower) which appeared in the Aug. 7 edition of the Stillwater News Press. The author was absolutely right about one thing – that the Postal Service is a “public service that people really like and count on – which literally delivers for us.”
However, a few other points are in need of correction. We take seriously our mission to provide universal service at affordable prices and we value the trust of the American people.
The U.S. Postal Service is facing an unprecedented financial crisis that started during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and now continues, due in part, to the continued erosion in First-Class Mail volumes. The claim by some that the Postal Service’s dire situation is “manufactured” is simply wrong. Our financial reports, which are available on usps.com, clearly illustrate how a combination of factors contributes to our dire financial condition. These factors include significantly reduced First-Class Mail volume – down by 28 percent over the last five years – alongside continuing increases in the number of deliveries we must make. The situation becomes even more serious when you add in our liabilities issues. The Postal Service’s current liabilities, including underfunded retirement and health benefit obligations, exceed assets by $90 billion.
Many commenters say that resolving the retiree health benefits prefunding issue would solve our financial issues. Not so. If Congress were to enact legislation eliminating the prefunding obligation, which is approximately $5.5 billion per year, the Postal Service would still not be on solid financial footing. We have been unable to make this payment for over three years, yet we still have an extremely limited amount of available cash on hand. That’s why we are working with Congress to establish a business model that would enable the Postal Service to operate profitably, to repay existing debts, and to make improvements for the benefit of our customers.
In the face of these financial challenges, the Postal Service chooses to operate in a climate of innovation, not desperation. We focus on areas of our business that we can control and are making significant progress on a number of fronts. Package delivery is a strong area of growth for us. We are investing in our delivery network by providing our carriers with better scanning devices. We have also made great strides with regard to cost control and the rationalization of our mail processing network. And we continue to make progress relative to optimizing our Post Office and delivery operations.
In an effort to extend our accessibility, the Postal Service and Staples entered into a pilot program in which Staples provided postal services and products at 82 stores. These 82 Staples locations will now be transitioned into the Postal Service’s long-established Approved Shipper Program.
In fact, the Postal Service currently enjoys a partnership with more than 65,000 retailers who provide expanded access to postal products and services, including Contract Postal Units, Village Post Offices, and Approved Shipper Providers; none of which have ever been staffed by USPS employees. These relationships secure the long-term future of the Postal Service – a goal all stakeholders want.
We are doing what any business that wants to survive and prosper does, adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace.
We want to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service, preserving the jobs of more than 450,000 employees, and making postal products and services available to customers where they live, work and shop.